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Henrg W. Sage 


A.vJ^K .5 A ^ \5iTi:jlS 

viscount Lake 


Memoir of the 
Life and Military Services 


Viscount Lake 

Baron Lake of Delhi and Laswaree 
1 744-1 808 











<?Wy WIFE. 


Lord Lake's half century of military service, 
terminated by his death in 1808, took place 
at a time when the slow transmission of news 
made it difficult for home-keeping Englishmen 
to appreciate the achievements of their country- 
men abroad. They were indeed, for the most 
part, ignorant of the creation of the Indian 
Empire, that triumph of the constructive genius 
of our race, and services of which the nation 
was but dimly aware could hardly arouse much 

To this ignorance must, in part, be attributed 
the oblivion into which Lake's career has fallen ; 
and a fiirther explanation may be found in the 
period of his death, at the moment when the 
rising fame of Wellington swallowed, like 
Aaron's rod, the reputations of all contempor- 
aneous soldiers. 


Yet of Lake the great Wellesley wrote these 
words : " His masterly operations, his unex- 
ampled alacrity and honourable zeal, the judg- 
ment, skill, and promptitude of decision which 
he has manifested in every crisis of difficulty 
or danger, combined with his irresistible spirit 
of enterprise and courage, entitle him to the 
gratitude and admiration of every loyal British 
subject, and of every heart and mind which 
can feel for the honour, or can understand the 
interests, of the British Empire." 

This record of Lord Lake's life and services 
has been written in the hope of rescuing from 
an undeserved oblivion the memory of the 
soldier who earned from Wellesley so glowing an 
eulogium ; of describing, though inadequately, 
the methods and achievements of a commander 
who has rarely been excelled on the battle-field ; 
and of recalling to his countrymen the char- 
acter of a man who had many great and no 
ignoble qualities, who was an honourable and 
disinterested English gentleman, and who played 
no small part in the creation of our Indian 

The portrait of Lord Lake (frontispiece) is 
reproduced from a miniature in the possession 
of Lady Fludyer. 

The map illustrating the French operations 


in Ireland in 1798 is reproduced from 'The 
Times,' by kind permission of the manager of 
that paper. 

The remaining maps are the work of Mr 
D. S. Home of the War Office. 




II. "the seven years' war'' 









INDEX ....... 










LASWARI ...... II 238 






1803 II 410 


' History of the British Army.' (Honble. J. W. 

' Memoirs of the War in India.' (Major W. 


' The Campaigns of Lord Lake.' (Major H. Helsham- Jones.) 

' History of the First or Grenadier Guards.' (Hamilton.) 

' Life of John, Marquis of Granby.' (Manners.) 

' Operations of the Allied Armies under the command of H.S.H. 

Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, &c.' (By an Officer.) 
' History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century.' (Leoky.) 
' The ComwaUis Papers.' 

< The Influence of Sea-Power upon History.' (Mahan.) 
' Diary of Sir John Moore.' (Ed. Major-General Sir F. Maurice.) 
' Life of Sir Ralph Abercromby.' (Dunfermline.) 
' La France et I'lrlande pendant la r6yolution.' (GuiUon.) 
' The Story of a Raid.' (Military correspondent of ' The Times.') 
' History of the Irish Rebellion.' (Maxwell.) 
' The Great War with France.' (Sir H. Bunbury.) 
' Despatches of the Marquis Wellesley.' 
'The Wellington Despatches.' 

' History of the Bengal Artillery.' (Major-General Stubbs.) 
'Regimental Records of the 8th Hussars, 22nd Regiment, 76th 

Regiment, Bengal European Regiment, &c.' 
" Indian Historical Subjects " : ' Lord Lake.' (Malleson.) 
' Decisive Battles of India.' (Malleson.) 
" From Cromwell to Wellington " : ' Lake.' (Colonel May.) 




Gebaud Lake was born in the year 1744, the 
second son of Lancelot Charles Lake and Letitia 
his wife. The family of Lake is of undoubted 
antiquity, and although its descent from 
Lancelot of the Lake, the favourite knight 
of King Arthur, is of course merely traditional, 
there is clear proof that at the period of the 
birth of the future victor of Laswari the 
Lakes had for two centuries at least maintained 
themselves in a position of dignity, and had 
contributed a fair proportion of men of light 
and leading to their native land. 

The written pedigree of the family makes 
no attempt to trace its descent from the 
fabled Lancelot, although the description of 


"Almeric Lake or Du Lake" seems to hint 
at such a claim. The said Almeric is, how- 
ever, the first person named in the pedigree, 
and of him no particulars are given save that 
he lived at Southampton in the second half of 
the sixteenth century, and was the father of 
two sons, hoth of whom rose to eminence. 

The younger of these, whose career may be 
most conveniently taken first, was named 
Arthur, and received his early education in 
the free school in St Michael's parish, South- 
ampton, and thence was "transplanted," as 
the record has it, "to Wykeham's school." 
Thence, in 1589, he was elected a Fellow ox 
New College, Oxford. Five years later Arthur 
Lake took holy orders, and in 1605 was 
installed Archdeacon of Surrey. In April 1608 
he became Dean of Bristol, and in 1616 he 
was consecrated Bishop of Bath and Wells, 
dying ten years later. 

The character of Bishop Lake, as recorded 
in the genealogy, is worthy of all respect. 
After recording his various preferments, the 
author proceeds : "In these places of honour 
and employment he carried himself the same 
in mind and person, showing by his constancy 
that his virtues were virtues indeed ; in aU 
kinds of which, whether natural, moral, theo- 


logical, personal, or pastoral, he was eminent, 
and one of the examples of his time. He 
always lived a single man, exemplary in his 
life and conversation, and very hospitable. 
He was also well read in the Fathers and 
Schoolmen, and had such a command of the 
Scripture (which made him one of the best 
preachers) that few went beyond him in his 
time. . . . Over his grave was soon after 
laid a flat stone, neither marble nor free, with 
this engraven on a brass plate affixed to it — 
' Here lieth Arthur Lake, Doctor in Divinity, 
late Bishop of Bath and "Wells, who died on 
the 4th of May 1626.'" 

Sir Thomas Lake, the elder brother of this 
worthy prelate, born at Southampton about 
the year 1567, was, it is stated in the gene- 
alogy, "bred a scholar, and afterwards taken 
into the service of Sir Francis Walsingham, 
Secretary of State, as his amanuensis. By 
him he was recommended to Queen Elizabeth, 
to whom he read French and Latin. A little 
before her death she made him clerk of her 
signet, and after her death he was sent 
by the State to attend King James I. from 
Berwick." King James took Lake into his 
favour, knighting him on May 20, 1603, and 
entrusting him with the charge of our relatione 


with France. Sir Thomas Lake's rise in the 
favour of Queen Elizabeth is attributed 
entirely to his own merits, but in gaining 
the favour of James I., Lake showed much 
suppleness and tact. He steadily championed 
the interests of the king's Scottish friends, 
and ignored the dislike of the English courtiers 
which he thus incurred. He also gave pal- 
atable advice to James in regard to financial 
matters. After Sir Robert Cecil was preferred 
to the administration of affairs, the office of 
Secretary of State was divided, and Sir Thomas 
Lake was appointed to be the second Secretary, 
and " so continued," says the chronicler, " with 
honourable esteem of all men, tUl malice and 
revenge (two violent passions over -ruling the 
weaker sex), concerning his wife and daughter, 
involved him in their quarrel, the chief and 
only cause of his ruin." 

In February 1616, Elizabeth, daughter of 
Sir Thomas Lake, was married to William 
Cecil, Lord E-oos, grandson of Thomas, first 
Earl of Exeter, and in July of the same year 
his title of Lord Roos, which had been dis- 
puted by the Earl of Rutland, was adjudged 
in his favour. 

In August 1616 Lord Roos left England in 
a hurried and secret manner, leaving his estate 


in great disorder, after having sent a challenge 
to his brother-in-law, Arthur Lake, who had 
violently assaulted him ; and, though he was 
required by the Lords of the Council to return, 
refused to comply with their order. 

The story of the quarrel between Lord Boos 
and the ladies of the Lake family is given in 
Saunderson's ' History of the Reign of James 
I.,' and is based on personal knowledge, the 
writer having been Secretary to Lord Roos's 
embassy. The story is not without interest, 
throwing, as it does, light on the shrewd 
methods of " the British Solomon," and it 
certainly illustrates the "malice and revenge" 
of the so-called weaker sex. 

"Sir Thomas Lake's daughter," writes Saun- 
derson, "marrying Lord Boos, this Baron, upon 
Lake's credit, was sent ambassador extraordinary 
into Spain, 1616, in a very gallant equipage, with 
hopes of his own to continue longer, to save 
charges of transmitting any other. In his ab- 
sence there fell out a deadly feud ('tis no matter 
for what) between the Lady Lake and her 
daughter's step-mother, the Countess of Exeter,^ 
which was particularly described in a letter and 

' A mistake of Saunderson's. The lady in question was reallv 
widow of Lord Koos's grandfather. She was bom in 1580, and 
consequently was thirty-six years old at this time. 


sent from England for me at Madrid, and 
because of my near relations in that embassy 
I showed the same to my Lord Ambassador. 
A youthful widow this Countess had been and 
virtuous, the relict of Sir Thomas Smith, clerk 
of the council and register of the parliament, 
and so she became bed - fellow to this aged, 
gouty, diseased, but noble Earl ; and that pre- 
ferment had made her subject to envy and 

" Home comes the Lord Roos from his embassy, 
when he fell into some neglect of his wife and 
her kindred, upon refusing to increase the allow- 
ance to her settlement of jointure, which was 
promised to be completed at his return. Not 
long he stays in England ; but away he gets 
into Italy, turned a professed Koman Catholic, 
being cozened into that religion there by his 
public confident Gondomar. 

"In this last absence, never to return, the 
mother and daughter accuse the Countess of 
former incontinency with the Lord Roos whilst 
he was here ; and that therefore, upon his 
wife's discovery, he was fled from hence and 
from her marriage - bed, with other devised 
calumnies, by several designs and contrivements 
to have impoisoned the mother and daughter. 

" This quarrel blazoned at Court to the 


King's ear, who, as privately as could be, 
singly examines each party. The Countess 
with tears and imprecations professes her 
innocency ; which to oppose, the mother and 
daughter counterfeit her hand to a whole 
sheet of paper, wherein they make her with 
much contrition to acknowledge herself guilty, 
crave pardon for attempting to impoison them, 
and desire friendship for ever with them all. 

"The King gets sight of this as in favour 
to them, and demands the time, place, and 
occasion when this should be writ. They tell 
him that all the parties met in a visit at 
Wimbleton (the Earl of Exeter's house), where 
in dispute of their differences, she confessed 
her guilt, desirous of absolution and friend- 
ship, consents to set down aU under her own 
hand, which presently she writ at the window 
in the upper end of the great chamber at 
Wimbleton, in presence of the mother and 
daughter, the Lord Roos, and one Diego, a 
Spaniard, his confiding servant. But now 
they being gone and at Rome, the King forth- 
with sends Master Dendy, one of his sergeants- 
at - arms, some time a domestic of the Earl 
of Essex, an honest and worthy gentleman, 
post to Rome, who speedily returns with 
Roos's and Diego's hands and other testi- 


monials, that all the said accusation, confession, 
suspicions, and papers concerning the Countess 
were notoriously false and scandalous, and con- 
firm it by receiving their eucharist, in assurance 
of her honour and his innocency. Besides 
several letters of her hand, compared with 
this writing, concluded it counterfeit. 

" Then the King tells the mother and daughter 
that this writing being denied by her, their 
testimonies as parties would not prevail without 
additional witness. They then adjoin one Sarah 
Wharton, their chambress, who, they affirm, 
stood behind the hangings at the entrance of 
the room, and heard the Countess read over 
what she had writ. And to this she swears 
before the King. 

" But after a hunting at New Park, the King 
entertained at Wimbleton and, in that room, 
observes the great distance from the window 
to the lower end, and placing himself behind 
the hangings (and so other Lords in their turn), 
they could not hear a loud voice from the 
window. Besides, the hangings wanted two 
feet of the ground, and might discover the 
woman, if hidden behind, the King saying, 
' oaths cannot deceive my sight.' And the 
hangings had not been removed that room 
in thirty years before. 


" Nay, more than all these, the mother and 
daughter counterfeit a confession in writing of 
one Luke Hutton, that for forty pounds the 
Countess should hire him to poison them, which 
man with wonderful providence was found out, 
and privately denies it to the King. 

"And thus prepared the King sends for 
Lake, whom in truth he valued, tells him the 
danger to embark himself in this quarrel, ad- 
vising him to leave them to the law, being 
ready for a star-chamber business. He humbly 
thanked his Majesty, but could not refuse to 
be a father and a husband ; and so put his 
name and theirs in a cross -bill, which at the 
hearing took up five several days, the King 
sitting in judgement. But the former testi- 
monies and some private confessions of the 
Lady Broos and Sarah Wharton, which the 
King kept in secret, made the cause for some 
days of trial appear doubtful to the court, 
until the King's discovery, which concluded the 
sentence, pronounced upon several censures, — 
Lake and his Lady fined £10,000 to the King, 
£5000 to the Countess, £50 to Hutton; Sarah 
Wharton to be whipped at a cart's tail about 
the streets, and to do penance at St Martin's 
Church. The Lady Roos for confessing the 
truth and plot in the midst of the trial, was 


pardoned by most voices from penal sentence. 
The King, I remember, compared their crimes 
to the plot of the first Sin in Paradise, the 
Lady to the Serpent, her daughter to Eve, and 
Sir Thomas to poor Adam, whose love to his 
Wife, the old Sin of our father, had beguiled 
him. I am sure he paid for all, which, as he 
told me, cost him £30,000, the loss of his 
master's favour, and offices of honour and gain, 
but truly with much pity and compassion at 
court, he being held an honest man." 

Fuller, in his 'Worthies of England,' says 
that Sir Thomas Lake's dexterity of despatch 
and secrecy in business were incredible ; and 
it is also recorded that from his skLU with 
the pen Lake was nicknamed "Swiftsure," 
after a well-known ship of the Royal Navy. 
Sir Thomas married Mary, daughter and heiress 
of Sir William Ryther, Lord Mayor of London, 
and died on September 17, 1630, at his seat at 
Canons, Whitchurch, County Middlesex, which 
he had bought in 1604. He left three children ; 
Elizabeth, wife of Lord Roos, whose misad- 
ventures have been related ; and three sons, 
(1) Sir Thomas Lake of Canons, who died 
13th May 1653, and (2) Sir Arthur, who died 
in December 1633. Both were knighted in 
1617. The third son, Lancelot, who died in 


1646, was father of Sir Lancelot Lake of Canons, 
who was knighted in 1660, and was M.P. for 
Middlesex in the Convention of that year and 
in the Parliament of 1661. Sir Lancelot died 
in 1680, leaving, by his wife Frances, with 
many other children, a son Warwick, of whom 

Sir Lancelot's eldest son, Sir Thomas Lake 
of Canons, knighted in 1670, married Rebecca, 
daughter of Sir James Langham, Baronet, and 
by her had seven children, who all died young 
with the exception of Mary, born in 1668, 
who married James Brydges, afterwards Duke 
of Chandos, to whom she carried the seat of 
Canons, The magnificence of Canons, on which 
the Duke is said to have spent nearly £200,000 
about the year 1712, was proverbial in its day ; 
but its glory soon departed, for it was pulled 
down and the materials sold by auction in 
1747. Thus vanished a great portion of the 
fortune amassed by Sir Thomas Lake, the 
Secretary of State. 

Warwick Lake, born in 1661, sixth son of 
Sir Lancelot and uncle of the Duchess of 
Chandos, married Elizabeth, only daughter and 
heiress of Sir Charles Gerard, Baronet, of Flam- 
bard's, Harrow -on -the -Hill. Elizabeth Gerard 
possessed not only a good fortune but an 


illustrious pedigree. Her mother, Honora, Lady 
Gerard, was daughter of Charles, 2nd Lord 
Seymour of Trowbridge, great-grandson of 
Catherine, Countess of Hertford, who was 
granddaughter of Princess Mary Tudor, daughter 
of King Henry VII. ^ 

By his marriage with Elizabeth Gerard, 
Warwick Lake became the father of Lancelot 
Charles Lake, born in 1711, who further re- 



(iBt) Louis XII., = Princess Mary m. = (2nd) Charlbs Brandon, 
King of France. | Duke of Suffolk, K.G. 

Lady Frances Brandon m. Henrt Gret, Duke of Suffolk, 
I K.G. 

Lady Catherine Gret m. Edward Setmour, Earl of 
I Hertford (son of Edward, 
I Duke of Somerset). 

Edward, Lord Beauchamp m. Honora, dau. of Sir Richard 
{ Rogers of Bryanstone, Dorset. 

Francis, created, 1641, Lord Seymour m. Frances, dau. of Sir Gilbert 
of Trowbridge I Prinne of Allington, Wilts. 

Charles, 2nd Lord Seymour of Trow- m. (ashia second wife) Elizabeth, 
bridge I dau. of Wm., Lord Allington. 

I I 
Charles, 6th Duke of Somerset. Honora m. Sir Charles 
I Gerard. 

Elizabeth Gerard m. Warwick Lake. 

Lancelot Charles Lake m. Letitia Gdmley. 



stored the family fortunes by his marriage with 
Letitia Gumley, one of the three daughters 
and co-heiresses of John Gumley of Isleworth, 
Middlesex, — a gentleman who had made a large 
fortune as Commissary -General of the Army. 
Another daughter of Mr Gumley married the 
celebrated William Pulteney, Earl of Bath. 
Lady Bath inherited Gumley House, which at 
her death came to Lord Lake, who sold it. 
The third Miss Gumley married a gentleman 
named Colman, and was the mother of George 
Colman, the dramatic writer. 

Lancelot and Letitia Lake had two sons, the 
elder, Warwick, a Commissioner of the Stamp 
Oj0&ce and a member of the household of George 
IV. when Prince of Wales. 

The second son, Gerard, bom July 27, 1744, 
created Baron, and afterwards Viscount, Lake of 
Delhi and Laswari, is the subject of this memoir. 

Gerard, Viscount Lake, married, June 26, 1770, 
Elizabeth Barker, only daughter of Edward 
Barker, Esq., of St Julian's, Hertfordshire, and 
by her (who died Feb. 20, 1788) had issue — 

(1) Francis Gerard, 2nd Viscount Lake. 

(2) George Augustus Frederick, killed, when 

Lieutenant -Colonel of the 29th Regi- 
ment, at the battle of Boliga, August 
17, 1808. 


(3) Warwick, 3rd and last Viscount Lake. 

(1) Anna Maria, married (August 21, 1799) 

Sir Richard Borough, Baronet. 

(2) Amabel, married (May 25, 1803) Major 

(afterwards Major - General) Joseph 
Brooks, of the East India Company's 

(3) Elizabeth, married (June 6, 1806) Colonel 

(afterwards Lieut. - Greneral) Sir John 

(4) Frances, unmarried. 

(5) Anne, married (1812) Lieut. -Colonel (after- 

wards Lieut. -General) John Wardlaw. 
The honours conferred on Lake expired on the 
death of his youngest son, Warwick, 3rd and last 
Viscount Lake, but his descendants are many in 
number, and are enumerated in the Appendix. 



At the time of Gerard Lake's birth, the 
fortunes of his family, grievously maimed by 
the marriage of his cousin Mary to the Duke 
of Chandos, and the consequent alienation of 
the estate of Canons, had been restored by 
the prudent marriages of his father and grand- 
father. Gerard Lake, though the second son, 
was heir to a sufficient fortune, and on May 7, 
1758, at the age of thirteen years and nearly 
ten months, he was appointed an Ensign in 
the Ist Regiment of Foot Guards. Lake's 
entry into a military career was therefore 
made under favourable circumstances and in 
a happy moment, for Europe in 1758 was 
ringing with the fame of Rosbach and Leuthen, 
and the genius of Frederick the Great was 
astonishing the world and forming a great 
school for soldiers. England had already been 
engaged over two years in what was after- 


wards named " The Seven Years' War," that 
long struggle against the power of France in 
which Pitt found the means of realising the 
colonial expansion which his genius saw to 
be essential to the development of England. 
The attitude of our people towards the war 
was at first dubious. On the one hand, they 
hated France with a hearty antipathy, the 
growth of centuries ; moreover, they dreaded 
a French invasion. On the other hand, they 
disliked spending English blood and treasure 
for the protection of the German possessions of 
their German king, who openly showed them 
that he preferred Hanover to England. The 
earlier enterprises of the war in Europe, too, 
were on a small scale, and met with no satis- 
factory results ; and it was not until the 
glorious achievements of Wolfe in Canada and 
of Hawke at Quiberon showed England what 
she might achieve, that Pitt was enabled to 
launch out with serious operations on the 
Continent of Europe. 

Until, indeed, he was placed at the head 
of affairs, England played but a half-hearted 
game. The attack on Frederick of Prussia, 
primarily initiated by France (incredible as it 
may seem) with the intention of punishing him 
for his scornful treatment of Madame de 


Pompadour, involved a menace to Hanover. 
Frederick was attacked on his left and front 
by the Saxons, Austrians, and Russians, all 
at that time the obedient allies of France ; 
and if he were left unaided whUe the great 
French army, the most powerful in Europe, 
fell upon his right, the English king saw 
that Prussia would be overwhelmed. The de- 
struction of Prussia might have been endured, 
but that of Hanover, which must have followed, 
was a contingency not to be contemplated by 
George II., a Hanoverian to the backbone. 
Born and bred in that country, the king, like 
his father, took but a faint interest in England. 
His whole heart was devoted to Hanover, and 
so, being a man of dauntless courage, he resolved 
to defy France. Thus did England embark 
on the war which, when entrusted to the guiding 
genius of Pitt, transferred to her the possess- 
ions of France in India and America, and 
transformed her from a small kingdom to a 
great empire. The early incidents of the war 
were far from encouraging. The imagination 
of King George did not of itself soar beyond 
the defence of Hanover and the guarding of 
Frederick's right flank from the armies of 
France. This was indeed a suflBciently serious 
undertaking, and, as events quickly showed, 



beyond the capacity of the Duke of Cumber- 
land. This Prince, who was entrusted by his 
father with the command of the Hanoverian 
army, though possessed of a full share of the 
courage of his house, was an inexperienced 
commander. His enterprising spirit led him 
to take up a dangerously advanced position, 
and the result of his operations was his defeat 
by Marshal D'Estrdes at Hastenbach on July 
26, 1757, followed by the Convention of 
Klosterseven in September of that year. By 
the terms of this Convention the Hanoverian 
army was to be disarmed and to take no 
further part in the war, and the position of 
King Frederick became perilous, until he saved 
himself by his victories of Rosbach, won from 
the French, and that of Leuthen, by which he 
reconquered Silesia from the Austrians. 

The failure of the Duke of Cumberland had 
been strongly resented in England, and Frederick, 
after Rosbach, became "the Protestant Hero," 
for whom the nation was ready to make any 

Pitt, who saw that Prussia must be effectively 
helped, repudiated the Convention of Kloster- 
seven, extracted from Parliament an annual sub- 
sidy of £670,000 for Frederick, and resolved to 
put the army of Hanover again in the field. 


What was evidently wanted was a capable gen- 
eral, and as Amherst and Wolfe were doing 
good work in America and could not be spared, 
the services of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, 
the most capable of Frederick's subordinates, were 
secured for the Hanoverian army. Ferdinand 
was a man of thirty-six, with seventeen years 
of war experience, — "a soldier of approved ex- 
cellence, and, likewise, a noble-minded, prudent, 
patient, and invincibly valiant and steadfast 
man."^ Service under him was of inestimable 
value to our army, and to his precepts and 
guidance may be traced the military skill of 
a large number of our best officers of later wars. 
The measure of Prince Ferdinand's excellence 
as a commander may best be taken from his 
achievements in fighting five campaigns suc- 
cessfully, always with one army against two, 
always against superior numbers, commanding 
troops of different nationalities, and afflicted by 
a considerable number of subordinate generals 
who by stupidity or other bad qualities often 
caused his best plans to fail. 

On the Hanoverian army again taking the 
field. Prince Ferdinand began operations by 
driving the French garrisons westward out of 
Hanover. The French, having been taken by 

' Carlyle'g ' Hiitory of Frederick II. of Prussia.' 


surprise by the secrecy with which the Hano- 
verians had been rearmed and set in motion, 
were unable to make an effective resistance, and 
by the end of March 1758 they had all been 
pressed across the Rhine. Prince Ferdinand 
followed them up, and on June 23 gained a 
signal victory at Crefeld. This triumph had 
a great effect in England, and Pitt decided to 
reinforce the Prince's army by the despatch of 
2000 cavalry and 7000 infantry from England, 
soon followed by 3000 more troops, and further 
endeavoured to check the despatch of French 
reinforcements to the Rhine by the employment 
of combined naval and military expeditions on 
a small scale against the west coast of France. 
This experiment had no good results, the first 
expedition, under the command of the 3rd Duke 
of Marlborough, with Lord George Sackville as 
second-in-command, doing nothing ; while the 
second, under General Bligh, not only did 
nothing, but sustained serious losses during its 
re-embarkation. The Duke and Lord George 
did not accompany the second expedition, 
having used all their interest to be sent to 
the field of action in Germany. Unhappily 
for both of them, they obtained their wish, 
the Duke of Marlborough dying at Mlinster on 
October 28, 1758, very soon after the arrival 


of the English contingent at that place, while 
the fate of Lord George SackviUe was, as we 
shall see, a worse one. The third senior 
English general in Germany was the famous 
John, Marquis of Granby, who, in consequence 
of the Duke of Marlborough's death, became 
second - in - command to Lord George. Lord 
Granby was thirty -seven years old, and had 
held the rank of Major - General for thirteen 
years, but his experience of war was as yet 

The winter months of 1758 were passed 
quietly in quarters, but in March 1759 Prince 
Ferdinand made a bold advance on Frankfort, 
which city the French had made their base. 
This enterprise proved a failure, and the Prince 
was compelled to fall back on the line of the 
Weser. It was now the turn of the French 
to take the offensive, and in June 1759 they 
advanced in great strength in four divisions. 
Prince Ferdinand found himself in a most diffi- 
cult position, for to hold his ground safely he 
was compelled to defend Miinster and Lipp- 
stadt, two distant points, and could not tell 
which of them the French would make their 
main objective. Munster was of vital import- 
ance, as if the French were to capture it they 
would thereby be able to cut Ferdinand's line 


of supply both from Germany and England. 
Lippstadt, though less important, covered his 
communications on the other flank. In July, 
Marshal Contades, thanks to his great pre- 
ponderance of strength, was besieging both 
towns with detached corps, his light troops had 
entered Hanover and were levying contributions, 
while he with his main body was in an im- 
pregnable position south of Minden. Ferdinand 
now set about a design of drawing Marshal 
Contades, the French commander-in-chief, from 
this position. By threatening Contades' line of 
supply, and by placing a small force in an 
apparently dangerous but really strong position 
in Contades' front, he thoroughly succeeded. 
On August 1, 1759, Contades left his secure 
position and threw his army across the Bastau, 
a tributary of the Weser, in order to destroy 
the small force that seemed to be at his mercy. 
The result of this imprudence was the glorious 
victory of Minden, in which six regiments of 
British infantry earned undying distinction. 
The most notable description of their achieve- 
ment was that written by their generous 
antagonist. Marshal Contades himself " I never 
thought to see a single line of infantry," he 
wrote, " break through three lines of cavalry, 
ranked in order of battle, and tumble them to 


ruin." Minden was a great day for the British 
infantry, and hardly less so for their artillery, 
whose efficiency and handling alike attracted 
general admiration ; but unhappily, through no 
fault of its own, the fine body of cavalry, con- 
sisting of twenty -four squadrons, were held 
back by their commander, Lord George Sack- 
ville. The cause of Lord George's failure has 
never been clearly proved. He had shown 
personal courage in previous campaigns, notably 
at Fontenoy, where he was wounded and thrown 
for dead into a waggon. Eleven years after 
Minden he showed conspicuous coolness in a 
duel. Sackville came, indeed, of a fighting stock 
on both sides, for his paternal grandfather was 
Charles, Lord Buckhurst, the model of gay 
courage in his day ; and his maternal grand- 
father was Field-Marshal Colyear, a veteran of 
the sieges and battles of the reign of William 
III. The proceedings of Sackville's court-martial 
show, however, only too clearly that at Minden 
he in no way played the part of a cavalry com- 
mander. He made no attempt to ascertain when 
he could use his fine force to assist the com- 
mander-in-chief; he disputed the meaning of 
the three orders to advance that were sent to 
him ; and his inactivity was carried so far that 
Prince Ferdinand was robbed of the full results 


of his victory. The French army lost 6000 men, 
30 guns, and 17 colours and standards, but it 
should have been annihilated. 

Minden ended the career as a soldier of Lord 
George Sackville, and he was succeeded in the 
command of the British contingent by the 
Marquis of Granby, who was as loyal and 
forward as Sackville was the reverse. 

Lord Granby was in every way fitted to 
become, as he did, the national hero. To the 
civil population he was the embodiment of the 
qualities they most admired — honesty, generosity, 
and loyalty. To the army he became endeared 
by long years of unostentatious thoughtfulness 
and kindness ; they knew how, in his contempt 
of self-advertisement, he habitually sank his own 
name in loyal devotion to his chief, and gave 
away his own exploits to his subordinates, while 
he was ever ready to buy provisions and neces- 
saries for the rank and file out of his own pocket. 
The army in Germany had been cruelly humiliated 
by the disgrace of Lord George SackviUe, and 
in his successor they hailed a leader who eagerly 
watched for every chance of action, and who led 
every attack in person. 

After Minden, Marshal Contades retired on 
Cassel, and also raised the siege of Lippstadt. 
He was presently compelled to retire still farther 


to Marburg, evacuating Cassel, which was cap- 
tured by the allies. Ferdinand ended the cam- 
paign by advancing to and blockading Giessen ; 
but he was unable to do more, as King Frederick 
demanded 12,000 of his troops, with the object of 
driving the Austrians from Saxony in a winter 
campaign. So ended 1759, that year of glory 
for England, which saw the capture of Quebec, 
the battle of Minden, and the great naval victory 
of Quiberon Bay, which gave England the com- 
mand of the sea and enabled Pitt to embark 
on his great scheme of war with France all over 
the world. 

The campaign of 1760 did not begin until late 
in the month of May, before which time the 
English contingent had been raised to a strength 
of over 20,000 men. Prince Ferdinand now had 
a force of about 70,000 men in all ; but opposed 
to him were two French armies, under Marshal de 
Broglie and General St Germain, of much greater 
strength. The campaign opened badly for the 
allies, by the failure of a movement undertaken 
by the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, the 
nephew of Prince Ferdinand, with the object 
of preventing a junction of the two French 
armies. The Hereditary Prince's force, partly 
composed of English troops, was defeated with 
heavy loss at Corbach on July 10, and al- 


though, thanks to his own fine qualities and 
those of his troops, the Prince extricated himself 
firom a dangerous position, it appeared to King 
George II. that immediate reinforcements were 
necessary. On July 23 orders were issued 
in London for the 2nd battalions of the three 
regiments of Foot Guards to prepare for active 
service. The preparations were rapidly carried 
out, soldiers who had enlisted for the limited 
period of three years' service being given the 
option of going abroad or remaining at home, — 
an arrangement which has a curiously modem 
ring. The service battalions were brought up 
to a strength of 1000 men apiece by drafts 
from the battalions remaining at home, and in 
two days the Brigade was ready to embark. 
A fourth battalion was formed of the Grenadier 
companies, and the command of the Brigade 
was conferred on Major -General Julius Caesar, 
an oflficer of Italian descent, whose family had 
thus anglicised the name, Csesarini, of one of 
their ancestors. With the 2nd Battalion of the 
First Guards there embarked the youthful Ensig^n 
Gerard Lake, who, through the course of events 
which have been briefly sketched, was now to 
observe the methods of war practised by leaders 
of the school of Frederick the Great, and to take 
as his immediate model the gallant Lord Granby, 


whose qualities were precisely those calculated 
to impress a youthful mind. 

The 2nd Battalion First Guards embarked 
at Gravesend on July 25 and proceeded to 
Bremen, where it met the other battalions of 
the Guards Brigade on July 30, 1760, exactly 
a week after the receipt of the order to prepare 
for embarkation. This was no trifling feat of 
mobilisation. The Guards Brigade formed part 
of reinforcements of 11,000 men, which brought 
the British contingent under Lord Granby to a 
strength of 32,000 men. The Guards made a 
rapid march to join the army, and on arrival 
were numbered as the 1st Brigade, and were 
placed in the corps commanded by Lieut. -General 
the Hon. Henry Seymour Conway, the beloved 
friend of Horace Walpole. For all the rapidity 
of their movements they had, however, missed 
the severe action of Warburg, fought on July 31, 
in which the British cavalry under Lord Granby 
covered itself with glory. In this action a daring 
turning movement executed by Prince Ferdinand 
was on the point of failing, owing to the main 
attack having been delayed by the difficulties 
of the ground and the extreme heat. To save 
the small turning force from destruction Prince 
Ferdinand called on the British cavalry to make 
a supreme eflfort. Lord Granby, at the head of 

28 "the seven yeabs' war." 

twenty-two squadrons and the British artillery, 
advanced for two hours at a fast trot, and with- 
out rest or pause executed a charge which de- 
stroyed the powerful French cavalry and secured 
a brilliant victory. Lord Granby, well in front 
and bareheaded, led the charge, and when the 
Brigade of Guards, a month later, joined the 
army, his conduct and bearing were still the 
general theme of conversation. The whole career 
of Lord Lake shows the impression made on 
his youthful mind by the conduct of Granby, 
whom Lake ever after took as his model. The 
British contingent, after Warburg, were con- 
vinced that in Granby they had a leader cap- 
able of great deeds, but in other aspects their 
position in the allied army was far from pleasing 
them. They complained that no English general 
was trusted with the command of independent 
operations ; that they were always placed in the 
warmest part of every action ; that they were 
badly provisioned and made to pay double for 
everything ; and it was commonly but untruly 
reported among them that Prince Ferdinand 
made money by prolonging the war. The Seven 
Years' War, in fact, afforded another proof of the 
undesirability of the policy of composing armies 
of the troops of more than one nationality. 

The arrival of the Brigade of Guards and the 


other reinforcements from England enabled Prince 
Ferdinand to make a bold stroke and to endeavour 
to carry the war to the Rhine; but the invest- 
ment of Wesel, undertaken as a preliminary step, 
was met by the march of a French army by way 
of Cologne. The result was the hotly contested 
action of Kloster Kampen, fought on October 
16, 1760, by a mixed British and Hanoverian 
force under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick 
against a largely superior French force. The 
Hereditary Prince, who was himself severely 
wounded, nearly achieved the surprise that he 
attempted, but in the end was beaten back by 
force of numbers, and his force retired with 
much diflBculty. 

This failure, with its heavy losses, prevented 
Prince Ferdinand from any further enterprises 
in the year 1760, beyond an unsuccessftil advance 
on Gdttingen. Very wet weather had much to 
do with his failure, and in October the army 
went into winter quarters, the Prince establishing 
himself at Warburg, and the Brigade of Guards 
being stationed at Paderborn, forty mUes N.W. 
of Cassel. Just about this time, on October 25, 
that stout old soldier King Greorge II. died 
suddenly. As was then the custom, the com- 
missions of the officers of the army were renewed 
in the name of the new sovereign, and the name 

30 "the seven yeaks' war." 

of Gerard Lake appears sixth in the list of the 
twenty ensigns of the First Guards on that date. 
Although driven into winter quarters by the 
sheer impossibility of moving in the autumn 
rains, Prince Ferdinand resolved to attempt the 
recapture of Hesse by the unusual expedient of 
an advance in mid- winter, and in hope of effect- 
ing a surprise the scattered corps were assembled 
as secretly as possible. The Brigade of Guards 
quitted Paderborn in the middle of February 
1761, and joined Lord Granby's headquarters 
on the 21st of that month. The army then 
advanced in three columns, drove back the 
French at all points, and opened a siege on the 
fortress of Cassel. The French now rallied, and 
being greatly superior in strength, defeated the 
column commanded by the Hereditary Prince, 
and so caused the failure of the entire enterprise. 
By the end of March the hostile armies had 
resumed their former positions, but the allies 
had suffered such heavy losses, caused by hard- 
ship and disease even more than by battle, that 
they were unable again to take the field for two 
months. So severe were the losses in the First 
Guards that on March 1, 1761, the two bat- 
talions of the regiment in England were called 
upon to supply a draft of 178 men for the bat- 
talion in Germany, or close on twenty per cent of 


the strength which had arrived in that country 
but seven months previously, and had taken part 
in no pitched battle. So Ensign Lake learned 
something of the hardships of war in the winter 
of 1760. The following summer was to give him 
his first taste of fighting and his first chance of 

The French armies were now raised to a 
strength of 160,000 men, of whom 100,000 
under the Prince de Soubise formed the army 
of the Rhine, and 60,000 under Marshal de 
Broglie formed that of the Main. 

Nothing but the incompetence of Soubise and 
the jealousies between the two marshals saved 
Prince Ferdinand from destruction, for his total 
strength was but little over 90,000 men, weakened 
by the hardships of their winter campaign and 
crippled by an exhausted transport. The French 
commanders, however, showed much indecision 
as to their action, and Soubise at least was de- 
termined not to fight until he had joined hands 
with De Broglie. 

Either because Prince Ferdinand wished for 
this junction, or because he could not prevent it, 
the two French armies joined hands at Soest on 
July 10, where they had a strength of 100,000 
men. Ferdinand's army was weakened by 
various detached forces, and had no more than 

32 "the seven years' war." 

60,000 ; but he was determined on fighting, and 
faced the issue with much more confidence than 
did his adversaries. He had taken up a position 
facing Soest which was by no means easy to 
attack, and which rendered any movement, par- 
ticularly a retirement, on the part of the French 
a dangerous undertaking. As the engagement 
which followed gave Lake his first experience 
of a pitched battle, it must be described more 
fully than those that have been so briefly 
sketched. Prince Ferdinand's left rested on the 
Lippe, and his position ran along a line of 
heights. It was broken by the Ase, a small 
tributary of the Lippe, impassable except by 
bridges. The section of the position between 
the Lippe and the Ase contained the village 
of Vellinghausen, Prince Ferdinand's head- 
quarters, which gave its name to the action. 
This section,^ reading from left to right, was 
held by Wutgenau's corps, all Germans; and 
by Lord Granby's, half British and half German. 
On Granby's right, and across the Ase, came 
in succession the Prince of Anhalt's corps ; 
General Conway's (which included the Brigade 
of Guards, and was entirely British) ; Howard's 
corps, mainly British ; and on the extreme right 
the German corps of twenty-five battahons and 

1 Fortescue's ' History of the British Army.' 


twenty - four squadrons, commanded by the 
Hereditary Prince of Brunswick.^ The position 
was a strong one, but the right flank was open 
to direct attack or to a turning movement. 

The French generals did not attack until the 
afternoon of July 15, when De Broglie attacked 
Prince Ferdinand's left, while Soubise made a 
feint attack on the right and sent a strong 
force of light troops round that flank to create 
confusion in rear. De Broglie's was a dangerous 
attack, and it was aided by Wutgenau's troops 
(on the extreme left) being drawn too far back. 
Lord Granby's corps was consequently very 
hard pressed, but made a gallant stand untU 
Wutgenau came up into line, when the two 
corps were able to hold their own until dark. 
Soubise failed to make his attack on the right, 
and it appears that De Broglie's attack was 
really a premature one. His intention had 
been only to drive in the outposts of the left, 
but he was tempted to attack in consequence 
of finding the gap left by Wutgenau's faulty 
dispositions and Lord Granby's consequent 

' The Hereditary Prince, afterwards Duke, of Brunswick 
married Princess Augusta, sister of George III. His daughter, 
Princess Caroline, was the wife of George IV. The Duke, after 
many campaigns, was killed at the battle of Jena. 

* Fortescue's 'History of the British Army.' 


34 "the seven years war. 

During the night of the 15th, Prince Fer- 
dinand, who knew that the serious attack was 
yet to come, moved the entire corps of Anhalt 
and the British portion of Howard's corps 
across the Ase to reinforce Lord Granby ; while 
the remaining corps of the right took ground 
to their left so as to cover the gap thus made. 

At dawn De Broglie made a vigorous attack 
with fresh troops, but after twelve hours of 
fighting at close quarters was able to gain no 
advantage. Soubise showed the same inactivity 
as on the previous day, though the weakening 
of Prince Ferdinand's right gave him at least a 
chance of doing something to help his brother- 
marshal. The action ended by a counter-attack, 
ordered by Ferdinand himself and carried out 
by three British and four German battalions, 
against a height commanding Granby's position, 
where the French had placed two batteries. 
This attack was completely successful, and the 
French in this quarter of the field fled, leav- 
ing their dead and wounded, nine guns, six 
standards, and many prisoners. 

VeUinghausen was no bloodless victory. The 
allies sustained over 1500 casualties, while those 
of the French were estimated at 5000. Gerard 
Lake's first general action, therefore, conveyed 
to him a valuable double lesson, for his own 


commander had shown him how to conduct a 
defence, and the inaction of Soubise carried an 
equally valuable warning as to what to avoid : 
young as he was, he doubtless remembered 
both lessons to his profit. 

After Vellinghausen the two French armies 
separated, and an arduous period of incessant 
marching and counter - marching followed, in 
which Prince Ferdinand showed his most brilliant 
qualities as a commander. Whether our young 
Ensign took in all that was going on is highly 
doubtful, but the hard work that he was doing 
must have left an impression on his mind if 
not on his vigorous body. What the strain 
was that this boy of seventeen withstood may 
be gauged by the fact that when the Brigade 
of Guards went into winter quarters at the 
end of November 1761, the 2nd Battalion of 
the First Guards had 265 rank and file sick 
against 589 fit for duty. The strength of the 
whole allied army had, during the year's cam- 
paign, been reduced from ninety-five to seventy 
thousand men. Of this loss of 25,000 men, fully 
one-half had died of hardship and disease.^ 

The greater part of the British contingent 
moved into winter quarters on November 11, 
but the 2nd Battalion First Guards formed 

' Fortescue'a ' History of the British Army.' 


part of a special corps, encamped under General 
Conway at Eimbeck, in order to guard against 
a belated attack. The army received orders to 
assemble immediately and move to the support 
of Conway's corps in the event of an alarm, 
the signal being the firing of nine guns. On 
November 28, further operations being thought 
impossible, the battalions of Conway's corps 
rejoined their brigades. The winter quarters of 
the Brigade of Guards were at Osnaburg. 

Before operations had ceased, however, a 
great change had unfortunately come upon 
English policy. Pitt was no longer Prime 
Minister, and his successor, Lord Bute, a man 
of narrow views, was strongly opposed to any 
action on the part of England on the Continent. 
In spite of Bute's pacific intentions and the 
anxiety of France to put an end to the ruinous 
war that had so long drained her resources, the 
action of Spain made an immediate peace impos- 
sible, and Bute was compelled in January 1762 
to declare war against Spain also. We cannot 
deal with the enterprises undertaken against 
that country, interesting though they are, but 
must return to the war in Germany, now 
arrived at its last campaign. 

During 1762 Prince Ferdinand, though still 
fighting two armies with one, had less disparity 


of numbers to contend with, the army of the 
Main, under Soubise and D'Estr^es, having a 
strength of 80,000 men, and that of the Rhine, 
under the Prince de Cond^, being reduced to 
30,000. Ferdinand's strength approached 95,000 
men. Early operations were impossible, owing 
to the exhaustion of supplies in the area of 
operations, but in June Prince Ferdinand was 
able to make the first move. Masking the 
army of the Rhine by a force under the 
Hereditary Prince, he concentrated his army 
near Paderborn, advanced to the line of the 
Diemel, and presently took advantage of an 
incautious move on the part of the army of 
the Main to attack it at WUhelmstal. 

Lake was now to learn by observation how 
troops should be handled in the attack, as 
Vellinghausen had supplied him with a lesson 
of defensive action. Prince Ferdinand, on June 
23, 1762, though only able to attack 70,000 
men with 50,000, made dispositions of singular 
boldness in hope of securing a complete victory. 
Columns under Generals Sporke and Liickner 
were ordered to make a turning movement 
round the right of the French army and to 
attack its right and rear ; Lord Granby was 
to make a similar attack on the French left ; 
while the Prince himself was to execute a 


frontal attack with the main body of his army, 
in five columns. This design narrowly missed 
success owing to the movements of the two 
German corps under Sporke and Liickner getting 
slightly out of direction. By mischance, so 
common in complicated operations, the French 
army was warned of its impending doom and 
made a hurried retirement towards its base at 
Cassel. Meanwhile Prince Ferdinand was slowly 
advancing against them, and Lord Granby alone 
had punctually carried out the movement allotted 
to him, and had thrown himself full on the 
left flank of the French line of retreat from 
Wilhelmstal at Diirrenberg. The flower of the 
French infantry, under Comte de Stainville, 
was now thrown out as a rear-guard, to hold 
back Granby's corps at all costs and thus 
secure the retreat of the main body. 

Granby's infantry consisted of the three 
battalions of the Guards Brigade and the 
battalion of Grenadiers of the Guards, under 
Major-General Julius Caesar; two battalions of 
Grenadiers and two of Highlanders, under 
Lieut. -Colonel Beckwith ; and three Hanoverian 
battalions, under Major-General Wangenheim. 
He also had five British and nine German 
squadrons of cavalry and twelve guns. 

The fight between Granby's corps and that 


of De Stainville was long and severe, and the 
main body under Prince Ferdinand was so 
long in coming up that Lord Granby was in 
considerable peril. He was between Stainville's 
fine force and the French main body, and had 
the latter checked their retreat and fallen upon 
Granby, things might have gone badly with 
him. That risk he took with his eyes open, 
determined that the French should not get 
away scot-free. 

Disregarding the French main body, Granby 
led his troops to a fierce hand-to-hand fight 
with De Stainville's corps, eventually driving 
them on to the head of Prince Ferdinand's 
troops, when they surrendered. Among the 
regiments which distinguished themselves at 
Wilhelmstal was Hodgson's Foot, now the 
Northumberland Fusiliers, to whom a large 
portion of De Stainville's corps surrendered. 
This regiment, alone of those engaged, bears 
the name Wilhelmstal as a distinction on its 
colours. The French rear-guard was nearly an- 
nihilated. They had 1500 killed and wounded, 
and lost 162 officers and 2720 men who 
were taken prisoners. On our side the casual- 
ties were under 800, those in Lake's battalion 
being 37, including one officer killed and one 
wounded. It is said that the youthful Lake 


(who had not yet completed his eighteenth 
year) distinguished himself at Wilhelmstal by 
an act of timely courage and determination. 
The story is thus told by Malleson. "The 
French army was already almost beaten and 
was retiring, when a portion of their cavalry, 
making a detour, came upon the right of the 
allied army and caused a sudden panic amongst 
the troops stationed there. Of these young 
Lake's regiment formed a part, and the men 
composing it, with the exception of a very few, 
joined in the flight. No sooner did Lake see 
this than he waved the colour, which he was 
carrying that day, and forming up a few men 
who remained with him, showed a bold front 
to the enemy. This conduct had such an effect 
upon the ftigitives that they at once rallied to 
his support, and the French were beaten off."^ 
Lake, who now held the rank of lieutenant and 
captain, was thanked by Prince Ferdinand and 
Lord Granby for his services on this occasion. 

After this action Prince Ferdinand attacked 
the French right at Lutternberg on July 24, 
and defeated it. The Brigade of Guards were 
not engaged in this action. The French army 
then fell back to Melsungen, and Prince Fer- 
dinand moved forward so as to threaten their 

1 "Lord Lake," in Malleson's Essays on Indian historical subjects. 


communications with their base at Frankfort. 
The two French armies joined hands at the 
end of August, and presently marched towards 
Cassel in order to prevent Prince Ferdinand 
from carrying out his intention of recapturing 
that place. By the middle of September the 
hostile armies were drawn up facing one another, 
on opposite banks of the river Ohm. Five 
days later a most curious action took place at 
and about the Castle of Amoneberg, a strong 
position on the French side of the river, which 
the allies held in insufficient strength. During 
the night of September 20 the French closely 
invested the castle, and at six o'clock on the 
following morning began a fierce attack on the 
bridge and an unfinished redoubt near it, which 
were intended to secure communications between 
the allied army and the castle. 

The two hundred Hanoverians in the redoubt 
held it gallantly, and were relieved after two 
hours by others of their corps. The French 
attack continued to be pressed, and the result 
of this singular contest was that after fourteen 
hours of incessant fighting the defence triumphed. 
At four in the afternoon the Guards appeared 
on the scene and took their turn in sending 
garrison after garrison to inevitable death in 
the redoubt. The share of the British troops 


in this Homeric combat was of much shorter 
duration than that of the Germans, but they 
had to face a heavier fire, for the French were 
able to bring more and more guns into action 
as time went on, while the aUies were limited 
to twelve pieces. Seven battalions in turn took 
part in the defence of the bridge and redoubt 
of Amoneberg, and the loss of the allies was 
over 750 in killed and wounded. More than a 
third of this loss was borne by Lord Granby's 
British troops, who were only three hours in 
action out of the fourteen hours' fighting. The 
French are said to have lost 1100 or 1200 men 
in their fruitless attacks. 

The French, in consequence of this failure, 
were unable to help Cassel, which was presently 
besieged by a portion of Prince Ferdinand's 

On November 1, 1762, Cassel fell, and with 
this success the Seven Years' War came to an 
end. Lord Bute was bent on peace, and with 
the victors in this mind an agreement was in- 
evitable. Many of the conquests of England 
made during the war were restored, but the 
possession of Canada and the substitution of 
England for France as the dominant European 
power in India remained as compensation for 


ScGde of Miles 
o no 20 30 *o 50 



the hundred millions which the Seven Years' 
War added to our National Debt. 

The British army began its homeward march 
through Holland in January 25, 1763, the 
average strength of the three battalions of 
Guards on arrival in England being 15 officers, 
730 men, and above 100 horses. General Julius 
Caesar did not accompany them. He had been 
mortally injured by a fall from his horse in 
the previous July, and, with many other good 
men and true, lay buried in a German grave. 




Lake's experience of war sustained a long in- 
terruption after his return to England in 1763. 
He had been promoted a lieutenant in the 
First Guards, with the rank of captain in the 
army, on January 3 of the previous year, and 
he remained for fourteen years without further 
promotion. During a portion of this period 
of peace Lake served as aide-de-camp to Major- 
General Sir Richard Pierson, his old command- 
ing officer in the Seven Years' War, who held 
a command in Ireland ; but for the most part 
Lake lived the ordinary life of a Guards officer 
and man of fashion of his period. He was 
noted as a sportsman and dandy, and spent 
what money he had with a spirited disregard 
of the consequences that always characterised 
him. Lake and his associates were famed as 
the hardest of the hard riders of their day, 
and for that virtue they may be excused an 


over - elaboration of dress, which was one of 
their foibles. Their own explanation of their 
careful attire was that they desired, should the 
occasion arise, " to leave a genteel corpse." 
Lake carried this custom of an elaborate toil- 
ette with him on his many campaigns, and to 
the end of his career was always to be found 
faultlessly attired, shaved, and powdered, how- 
ever early might be the hour of march. 

On June 26, 1770, Lake married Miss 
Elizabeth Barker, daughter of Mr Edward 
Barker of St Julian's in Hertfordshire, who 
had been British consul at Tripoli. Elizabeth 
Barker possessed great beauty, but a large 
fortune which was believed to be another of 
her charms was either non-existent or speedily 
took wings to itself, as had most of the pos- 
sessions of her husband. 

On the outbreak of the War of American 
Independence in 1775 Lake was approaching the 
end of his long period of subaltern's service. 
On January 11, 1776, he became captain-lieu- 
tenant and lieutenant -colonel, the rank held 
by the officer who commanded the lieutenant- 
colonel's company in the Guards ; and a month 
later he was promoted captain and lieutenant- 
colonel. During the first years of the rebellion, 
in spite of the weakness of our army, which 


was much under its establishment of 33,000 
men, an effort was made to provide a sufficient 
force without the employment of any portion 
of the Guards. This, however, was soon found 
to be impracticable, and a mixed battalion of 
Guards was formed for service in America in 
February 1776, with a strength of 30 officers 
and 1062 rank and file. This battalion em- 
barked at the end of April, and, on arrival 
in America, was formed into a brigade of 
two very weak battalions, — a bad arrange- 
ment, doubtless made to avoid the necessity of 
brigading the Guards battalion with regiments 
of the line. Whatever the faults of its organ- 
isation, the Guards Brigade in America showed 
the distinguished discipline and gallantry for 
which the household troops are deservedly held 
in honour by the army and the nation. 

The War of Independence resembled in certain 
of its features the South African "War of 1899 
1902, the enemy's force on both occasions 
being principally composed of irregulars, skilled 
marksmen, and possessed of superior mobility. 
In 1776, as in 1899, it was found that heavy 
casualties were caused among the officers by 
their distinctive arms and dress, and the 
officers of the Guards were therefore ordered 


to wear white instead of gold lace, and spontoons 
and halberts were discontinued. 

Shortly before the despatch of the Guards 
battalion from England, General William Howe, 
the English commander-in-chief, whose head- 
quarters were at Boston, was so severely 
pressed by General Washington, at the head 
of a force of 18,000 men, as to be compelled to 
evacuate Boston and take refuge at Halifax. 
On the arrival of the reinforcements from 
England, scanty as they necessarily were from 
the inadequacy of the army, Howe made a 
general concentration near New York, where 
by August 1, 1776, he had a force of about 
25,000 men, including a large number of loyal 
Americans. This total included every British 
soldier in North America except the small body 
of troops defending Canada. New York, after 
some fighting, was captured on September 15, 
and remained the British headquarters during 
the remainder of the war, — a period of more 
than seven years. The tidings of the capture 
of New York by Howe was described as " ter- 
rible news" by Charles James Fox, who, with 
the more extreme portion of the Whig party, 
was so opposed to the war as actually to desire 
the defeat of the king's troops. 


The campaign of 1776 was very successfiil, 
but not more so than should have been antici- 
pated from the superiority of the royal troops 
over the raw levies of the colonies. Sir 
William Howe failed to foUow up his successes 
with vigour, and committed a great error in 
scattering his troops along a front of eighty 
miles when the army went into winter quarters. 
This mistake was promptly punished by the 
disaster at Trenton, where Washington, who 
showed a splendid pertinacity, suddenly ad- 
vanced from Philadelphia and surprised and 
cut up a detachment of Hessian troops on 
December 26. 

In July 1777 operations were undertaken by 
Sir W. Howe against Washington's position 
at Philadelphia, and after the action of Brandy- 
wine, about twenty miles from that town, 
Philadelphia was occupied towards the end of 
September, and an attempt to recapture it 
was repulsed with loss. 

Meanwhile, General Carleton, afterwards Lord 
Dorchester, who had successfully defended 
Canada with very inadequate means, had 
been superseded by General Burgoyne, princi- 
pally through the personal enmity of Lord 
George Germaine, formerly Sackville. Burgoyne 
was ordered to march southward and join 


hands with Howe ; but corresponding orders 
were not issued to the latter, who by his 
operations at Philadelphia increased the dis- 
tance separating the British armies. 

Burgoyne began well by the recapture of Fort 
Ticonderoga, and then, crossing the Hudson, 
set out on his march of some two hundred 
miles through the forests towards Albany in 
the State of New York, where he expected to 
meet the army under Howe. Burgoyne had 
marched with no more than 6400 soldiers and 
700 Indians, less than half the force that he 
had proposed for the undertaking, so that 
disaster was more than probable even if Howe 
had marched towards instead of away from 
him. After crossing the Hudson, Burgojoie 
continued his slow advance, but difficulties soon 
began. Arnold, an able soldier, cut olF his 
retreat, and Schuyler, with 16,000 men, blocked 
his advance. Burgoyne doggedly moved on, 
and Schuyler fell back before him until he was 
superseded by Gates. 

On September 24, 1777, burgoyne found the 
American army of nearly 20,000 men strongly 
posted and entrenched, and immediately attacked 
them, though his own force was reduced to 5000 
men. Burgoyne's attack failed ; he retreated, 
and was presently surrounded at Saratoga, 


where he was compelled to surrender on October 
17. He and his troops had made a gallant 
fight, and the latter had but 3500 men remain- 
ing fit for duty. It should be mentioned that 
General Clinton, with a small force from New 
York, had made a brave but hopeless attempt 
to reinforce Burgoyne. 

The surrender of Saratoga was the turning- 
point in the War of Independence; for the 
triumph of the colonists, and the unpatriotic 
conduct of Fox and the opposition party in the 
British Parliament, decided France to declare 
war against England. The only wise course 
now was to concentrate as strong a land force 
as could be spared for North America, and to 
undertake with it such operations only as 
could be supported by the fleet. Scattered 
land operations, even if locally successful, had 
been proved to lead eventually to defeat; 
but, blind to all teaching, George III. and his 
Ministers persisted in these dangerous enter- 
prises until the inevitable end. 

In May 1778 Sir William Howe resigned 
the command in North America and was suc- 
ceeded by General Clinton, who, in accordance 
with orders from England, evacuated Philadel- 
phia and effected a difficult retirement to New 
York, arriving there on July 5. Three days 


later a strong French fleet, carrying 4000 
troops, arrived in the theatre of war, and the 
task of the English generals thenceforward 
became increasingly difficult, though no great 
successes were scored on either side in 1778. 

Negotiations for conciliating the rebel states 
having failed, the principal operations of 1779 
were directed against the southern provinces, 
where loyalist sympathies were strong. The 
year closed with the triumphant defence of 
Savannah against a powerful combined force of 
French and American troops, supported by a 
French fleet of twenty ships of the line with 
eleven frigates. An assault having been re- 
pulsed with heavy loss to the French troops, 
they were re-embarked and the fleet returned 
with them to the West Indies. 

Sir Henry Clinton now resolved to make 
the reduction of the southern colonies his main 
task for the year 1780, and, leaving a strong 
garrison at New York, saUed southward in 
the spring of that year with 7000 men, which 
number included 2000 American loyalists. 
Clinton's first enterprise was an attack on 
Charleston, which made a stout defence, but 
was captured on May 12, Between five 
and six thousand Americans surrendered at 
Charleston, and Clinton's loss did not exceed 


250 men. Other successes followed, American 
forces being defeated by Lord Cornwallis and 
General Tarleton in August 1780. The former 
victory — that of Lord Cornwallis at Camden — 
was of a decisive nature, but the Americans 
gamely continued their resistance and main- 
tained a guerUla warfare in North Carolina. 

In September the English entered that prov- 
ince in three bodies, and on October 9 sustained 
a reverse, a body of loyalist militia, commanded 
by Major Ferguson of the 70th Regiment, a 
gallant and enterprising soldier, being surprised 
and destroyed. The force which attacked 
Ferguson's detachment were all mounted and 
moved very rapidly, carrying nothing with 
them but their ammunition. A month later 
a second detachment, under Brigadier -General 
Tarleton, was also defeated. In the Northern 
States the Americans had been strengthened 
and encouraged in July of this year by the 
arrival of 6000 French troops with a large 
fleet, and a second reinforcement was promised 
later in the year, with which the Americans 
hoped to recapture New York. 

The second French division was, however, 
blockaded in Brest by the English fleet, and 
was Tinable to cross the Atlantic; so the 
general results of the year's campaign were 


favourable to the cause of Great Britain. 
England was, however, at the end of 1780 
confronted by a formidable array of foes. 
Without an ally, she was at war with France, 
Spain, and Holland, in addition to her own 
revolted colonies. She had also on her hands 
a dangerous war in Southern India, internal 
troubles in Ireland, and riots in London. This 
was a formidable conjunction of internal and 
external foes, and as the event showed, it 
was the assistance of France which turned 
the scale in America and gave the colonies 
their freedom. 

The British operations in the South in 1779 
and 1780, in spite of some reverses, had met 
with sufficient success to encourage the home 
authorities to order renewed attempts in that 
quarter ; and simultaneous invasions of North 
Carolina and of Virginia were undertaken in 
1781. The American troops in North Carolina 
were commanded by General Greene, and those 
in the Ninety- six district of South Carolina 
by Colonel Morgan. Lord Cornwallis decided 
to disperse these bodies, and despatched a 
mounted corps under Tarleton against Morgan. 
Tarleton mismanaged the affair, and was com- 
pletely defeated by Morgan at Cowpens on 
January 17, 1781. Lord Cornwallis, unde- 


terred by the loss of his cavalry, drove Greene 
and Morgan out of North Carolina into 
Virginia, and numbers of loyalists flocked to 
the British standard. On March 15 Comwallis 
defeated Greene in a brilliantly executed 
action at Guildford Court House, in which the 
English commander and his troops both showed 
the finest military qualities; but CornwaUis 
lost heavily in achieving his victory, and was 
presently compelled to retire to Wilmington, 
and subsequently to Petersburg in Virginia. 
Here he joined hands with a detachment sent 
under General Phillips from New York, and 
he also received from England drafts which 
had been sent out to make good the losses of 
the Guards Brigade at GuUdford. One of the 
six officers of the Guards who joined Lord 
Comwallis with these drafts was Lieutenant- 
Colonel Grerard Lake, whose experience of the 
War of Independence was thus limited to the 
imavailing struggle against overwhelming odds 
of the last four months of the war. 

When Lord Comwallis arrived at Petersburg, 
his own column had been reduced to a strength 
of 1435. The Brigade of Guards numbered no 
more than 387 ; the 71st Regiment, of two bat- 
talions, numbered 175 ; the 23rd Begiment, 194; 
and the 33rd Regiment, 209. His veterans and 


their leader were regarded as heroes by the 
whole arm)'^ in North America.^ 

After the arrival of the English drafts and his 
junction with Phillips' detachment (whose com- 
mander, an excellent officer, had died on May 12), 
Lord Cornwallis found himself at the head of 
7000 men, with which force he for a short time 
overran Virginia. The Americans and their 
French allies, however, now decided to make 
a final effort for victory, and the large number 
of fresh troops put by France into the field 
quickly turned the scale. England and the re- 
volting colonies were alike exhausted ; both had 
begun the long struggle with inadequate forces, 
and the internecine conflict had been heartily 
disliked by the large majority of both races. 

France, seeing the opportunity of dealing a 
heavy blow to her ancient foe, now threw 
8000 efficient troops into the field, and placed 
them loyally and unreservedly at the disposal 
of Washington, — a rare instance of political 
wisdom in military affairs. Washington made 
an able use of this invaluable aid, and, after 
retaining General Clinton at New York by a 
threatened attack on that place, made a rapid 
march to the south to take advantage of the 
dangerous position of Lord Cornwallis. 

1 Memoir of General Graham. 


The latter was now on the coast, for Sir 
Henry Clinton, seeing the increasing danger 
caused by the dispersion of his forces, had 
ordered CornwaUis to take up a defensive 
position at Yorktown, on the peninsula formed 
by the junction of the York river and the 
Chesapeake. Here the two British forces were 
within a few days' sail of one another, and had 
our navy been able to retain the local command 
of the sea, the War of Independence might have 
had a different conclusion. CornwaUis, with his 
advanced troops, arrived at Yorktown on August 
1, 1781, and by the 22nd of that month had con- 
centrated there all the 7000 troops in Virginia. 
Washington's correspondence proves conclusively 
that he was a master of strategy, and had thor- 
oughly grasped the fact that local maritime superi- 
ority would be the deciding factor in his struggle 
against England. By a mixture of good fortune 
and good management this superiority now 
became his, for the French fleet, under Comte 
de Grasse, presently approached the scene of 
action, whUe, at the critical moment. Admiral 
Rodney, the hope of England, was obliged to 
sail for home on account of bad health ; and 
Graves, the next senior Admiral in North 
America, did not make for the Chesapeake 
until it was too late. 


On arriving there he found the French fleet 
in possession and in superior force. Graves 
attacked (on September 5) without hesitation, 
but, in the opinion of Mahan, " the clumsiness 
of his method betrayed his gallantry ; many 
of his ships were roughly handled without any 
advantage being gained." De Grasse was able 
to keep Graves' weaker fleet in play outside 
the mouth of the Chesapeake for five days, at 
the end of which period Graves was compelled 
to return to New York, and De Grasse joined 
hands with another French squadron of consid- 
erable strength under De Barras. The arrival 
of this squadron was of great importance, as it 
convoyed the French siege artillery, which was 
presently landed and added to the troops under 
Washington and Lafayette. 

The position of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown 
was a hopeless one. He had occupied it under 
protest, and the intention of Sir Henry Clinton 
to reinforce or withdraw him was frustrated by 
the unforeseen failure of the British fleet. Shut 
in within a narrow promontory, Cornwallis and 
his 7000 war-worn troops were now besieged 
by an army of 16,000, well commanded and 
equipped, and provided with a powerful siege- 
train, while the French fleet commanded every 
approach by sea. 


On September 25 Washington wrote to De 
Grasse that the success of the combined French 
and American attack was "as certain as any 
military operations can be rendered by a de- 
cisive superiority of strength and means." It 
was by a deficiency of means, in fact, that 
the surrender of Cornwallis was brought about, 
for his supply of entrenching tools was utterly 
inadequate, and the consequent weakness of his 
entrenchments, added to that of his artillery 
and small-arm ammunition, made it impossible 
for him to hold out until Clinton coiJd come 
to his rescue from New York. 

On August 23, the day on which work was 
begun on the defences of Yorktown, the Engineers 
of the British force had in possession 400 spades 
and shovels, 190 pick-axes, with a few felling 
axes, hatchets, and wheelbarrows. With these 
scanty means Cornwallis and his troops worked 
wonders. Gloucester, a small village on the 
north bank of the York river, was first put into 
a state of defence and garrisoned with three 
battalions under Colonel Francis Dundas. The 
rest of the army was meanwhile employed in 
fortifying Yorktown, — a formidable task, from 
the extent of the position and its liability to fire 
both from the water and from the surrounding 
heights. "The York river at this place makes 


a bend, in the centre of which the town was 
situated. ... On the right of the town there 
is a considerable ravine, and on the angle of the 
opposite bank was constructed a redoubt, with 
an abatis, as a defence to the right flank. The 
town was then surrounded by a ditch and thick 
parapet, having a horn-work in the centre, in 
both of which were batteries, the embrasures 
lined with fascines. The parapet ran to the 
river on the left flank, having two advanced 
redoubts, with abatis, constructed on that flank, 
one on the brink of the bank over the river, 
the other advanced and in a line with the 
town's parapet and base of the horn-work. The 
parapet was formed of trees cut in the woods 
and placed inside; outside it was formed of 
fascines, and the earth from the ditch, which 
was sandy and gravelly, was thrown into the 
space between ; it had also a fraise made of 
fence rails, kept in line and projecting by the 
earth thrown into the opening of the parapet, 
giving it an appearance of strength which it 
little merited. During the time that the army 
was employed in these laborious works there 
was an encampment outside the town, on the 
edge of the bank projecting over the ravine 
by which the town was partially surrounded, 
particularly on its right, and through which 


several roads entered the town. This encamp- 
ment was strengthened by redoubts and field- 
works, thrown up for artillery, in various places 
commanding the country in its front. This 
was called the outward position. The troops 
worked hard, day and night, in constructing 
the above works. The British troops, as is 
their wont, felt perfect confidence in the de- 
fences which they had constructed, but an 
experienced old Hessian field officer, who was 
an oracle to the young officers of General 
Phillips' force, pointed to the French ships and 
said, " I no fear de land, but Got tamn she ! " ^ 
The British position at Yorktown was fully 
invested on September 29, 1781, and on Octo- 
ber 6 an attack by regular approaches was com- 
menced. From this date until the surrender on 
October 17, the French and American attack 
was pushed with the utmost vigour, and the 
troops of CornwaUis held their shattered works 
with desperate tenacity. On the evening of 
October 14 the two redoubts described above, 
on the left flank of the British defences, were 
carried, one by the Americans and one by the 
French, after a most gallant resistance. So 
shattered were the works that it is recorded 
that the French general who commanded in 

1 Memoir of General (Samuel) Graham. 


the attack found fault with his aide-de-camp 
for dismounting from his horse when heading 
the final charge. It was evident that noth- 
ing but the arrival of assistance from New 
York could avert a surrender, and partly to 
gain time, and partly perhaps to satisfy military 
honour, Lord Cornwallis decided on a sortie 
on the morning of October 16 against the two 
most threatening batteries of the French attack. 
For the command of this enterprise his choice 
fell upon Colonel Robert Abercromby, brother 
of the better-known Sir Balph, who was him- 
self subsequently commander-in-chief in India. 
Abercromby divided his party of 700 men into 
two detachments of equal strength, commanded 
by Lieutenant -Colonel Gerard Lake and Major 
Armstrong. Lake's party was principally fur- 
nished by the Brigade of Guards, but included 
also Captain John Murray's company of the 80th 
Regiment of that date, a Scottish battalion sub- 
sequently disbanded. Both attacks were success- 
ful : the French batteries were carried, and after 
killing and wounding a number of the enemy and 
spiking eleven of their guns, the British troops 
returned with very little loss. The sorties, 
however, gallant and successful as they were, 
had but little influence on the progress of the 
siege. The bombardment was incessant, the 


defences of Yorktown crumbled rapidly under 
the fire of the French heavy artillery, not a 
single British gun could be fired, small -arm 
ammunition ran short, no help came from the 
north, and Cornwallis saw that he must break 
through the investing lines or surrender. On the 
night following the sortie, the Guards Brigade, 
the 23rd Regiment, and the Light Infantry were 
thrown across the York river to Gloucester, 
with the intention that the remainder of the 
force should join them and force their way 
through Virginia to New York. Lord Corn- 
wallis intended to attack a French mounted 
corps, called Lauzun's Legion, which formed 
part of the hostile force surrounding Gloucester, 
and to capture their horses. Whether this 
attempt could have succeeded is more than 
doubtjful, but it was certainly worth trying. 
Unfortunately a storm arose and made it im- 
possible for the boats to return to Yorktown 
for the remainder of the force. 

At daybreak next morning the French bat- 
teries opened again, and Lord Cornwallis was 
compelled to make proposals for a capitulation, 
according to which Yorktown and Gloucester 
surrendered on October 19, the very day on 
which General Clinton sailed from New York 
with 7000 men. Three ships of the line had 


arrived from England, and the balance of naval 
power had again been restored, but it was too 

The surrender of Lord Comwallis was, as 
Mahan shows, largely a personal triumph for 
Washington, whose glorious tenacity achieved 
the freedom of his country; much credit must 
also be given to the skill and energy of De 
Grasse. Mahan shows also, in a manner which 
defies contradiction, that the temporary loss of 
superiority on the American coast that cost 
England her colonies was due to an improper 
distribution of her sea -power, caused by an 
attempt to defend her possessions all over the 
world. If England never repeats that mistake, 
she may thank the teachings of Mahan for 
her wisdom. 

The surrender at Yorktown was discreditable 
neither to the General nor his troops. Lord 
Comwallis had foreseen the dangers of the 
position, and had taken it up in deference to 
the orders of General Clinton. The losses 
sustained by the garrison during the siege 
were 500 killed and wounded. The number 
that surrendered were 6630 men, of whom 
2500 were German and the remainder British 
troops; 2000 men, nearly one -third of the 
force, were sick in hospital. The Guards 


Brigade had been reduced to a strength of 
23 officers and 502 sergeants, rank and file, in 
spite of its recent reinforcement. 

All serious attempts to coerce the American 
colonies to return under the flag of Great 
Britain ceased after the surrender of Corn- 
wallis, and the independence of thirteen colonies 
was acknowledged on the 30th November 1782, 
when peace was also concluded between Great 
Britain, France, and Spain. 

Lake was one of the three field officers selected 
by lot to take charge of the troops in captivity, 
but, as he was anxious for private reasons to 
proceed to England, Major Gordon of the 76th 
Regiment generously volunteered to take his 
place. Major, then Lieut. -Colonel, Gordon died 
in captivity. The period of captivity was un- 
pleasantly diversified by the expressed intention 
of the American Government to hang one of 
the captive English officers, in retaliation for a 
military execution which had taken place during 
the war, — the action, not of the regular author- 
ities, but of loyalist colonists. The victim was 
chosen by lot, and the unlucky number was 
drawn by Captain AsgiU of the First Guards. 
A scaffold was erected in sight of the building 
in which the officers of the Guards were con- 
fined, but after nearly six months of suspense 


THE prince's gentlemen. 65 

the sentence of death was remitted through 
the exertions of General Washington. Captain 
Asgill lived to become a general officer, and 
served under Lake in the suppression of the 
Irish rebellion. 

As has been shown, Lake's experience in the 
War of Independence was a brief one, but he 
had at least been fortunate in obtaining and 
seizing one opportunity of personal distinction. 
The sortie from Yorktown was the last enter- 
prise of the war, and it was an honourable 

Shortly after Colonel Lake's arrival in Eng- 
land he was appointed first Equerry and 
Commissioner of the Stables to the Prince of 
Wales, afterwards King George IV. Most 
writers on the private life of the Prince have 
indiscriminately condemned all his associates, 
describing them as profligate perverters of youth, 
drunken, dissipated, and dishonest. Lake has 
not fared as badly in this respect as certain 
others of the royal entourage, but it cannot 
be denied that his reputation has to some 
extent suffered with that of the others. Happily 
there is no cause to accept the general descrip- 
tions of the Prince's gentlemen as applicable 
to Lake himself Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, not 
the most charitable of diarists, mentions Lake 



occasionally in his memoirs, and writes that 
he found him "a pleasing exception" to the 
other courtiers, whom he describes in terms 
of reprobation. Strong testimony to Lake's 
private character has also recently come to 
light in the late Mr Wilkins' book, 'Mrs Fitz- 
herbert and George IV.,' in which is published 
a letter from the Rev. S. Johnes Knight, a 
clerical associate of the Prince, to his daughter. 
Mr Knight, in this letter, relates that im- 
mediately before the secret marriage of the 
Prince to Mrs Fitzherbert he met Colonel 
Lake in a London coflFee-house. In the course 
of conversation Lake said he was almost cer- 
tain the Prince intended to marry Mrs Fitz- 
herbert, but that he trusted no clergyman 
would be found to perform the ceremony. 
To this remark, which was evidently made 
with intention, Mr Knight says that he cor- 
dially assented. On the following morning 
Mr Knight was summoned to see the Prince, 
who urged him with all his persuasive power 
to perform the marriage ceremony. Mr Knight, 
who was warmly attached to the Prince, after 
much persuasion, consented to marry him, but 
on walking home from Carlton House suddenly 
remembered his conversation with Colonel Lake. 
In Mr Knight's own words : "In my devotion 

lake's good opinion. 67 

to the Prince I had set at naught the legal 
penalties I must incur, but I could not divest 
myself of the dread of reproach from Colonel 
Lake for having broken my word. I had, and 
ever shall have, the highest opinion of the 
honour and integrity of Lord Lake. I knew 
he was sincerely attached to the Prince, and 
I would not have forfeited Lord Lake's good 
opinion for all the world." 

Mr Knight consequently implored the Prince 
to release him from his promise, to which 
his Royal Highness kindly consented. The 
letter, in which, as will be seen, Lake is called 
" Colonel " and " Lord " Lake indiscriminately, 
was not written until after the death of George 
IV., and, of course, long after that of Lake ; 
but it shows the honourable regard in which 
Lake was held by the writer. 

On October 20, 1784, Colonel Lake was pro- 
moted to the rank of third major in the First 
Guards, a step which gave him the command 
of a battalion. At this period the regiments 
of Guards were commanded by officers who 
held the regimental rank of lieutenant-colonel, 
though of much higher rank in the army ; 
and, in like manner, the regimental majors who 
commanded the battalions were usually colonela 
or major-generals in the army. 


Lake attained the command of a battalion 
when forty years of age, and after a service of 
over twenty-six years. His promotion had been 
by no means rapid, and the fortune of war had 
given him, as yet, no opportunity of distin- 
guishing himself save by the conspicuous per- 
sonal courage which he had shown in both his 

In 1788 Lake became a widower, his wife 
dying on February 20 of this year, leaving him 
with a family of three sons and five daughters, 
to whom he was a most devoted and generous 
parent. In the following year he stood for 
Parliament at Aylesbury, and though unsuc- 
cessful on that occasion, he became one of the 
members for that borough in the general elec- 
tion of 1790, and retained his seat for twelve 
years. The following btirlesque address was cir- 
culated in the west end of London during the 
election, purporting to emanate from Weltjee, 
the Glerman comptroller of the Prince of Wales' 
kitchen and cellar, an office of no small dignity 
in the opinion of Mr Weltjee : — 

To de Gendelmen, de Abb&, and de Freholders of 
de Comt6 of AilsbrL 
My friend Grerri Lake havin ofiPurd his sarvis's to 
repreprepresent you in parlialialiament, I presum to 
tak de friddum to recummind um to you, bein my 
frind, and grate frind of my Master de Prince. He 


is ver clever gendelman, and kno de horse ver veil, 
how to bi for de Prince, and how to sel for himselv. 
But if you tink him too poor, and send him to de 
divl, I beg to offer myselv on his intrist, havin got 
plenti of munny in de honrable stasion I holds undur 
de Prince. I am naturalise Inglisman and Wig, 
and was introduce to de Wig club by Lord Stormant 
and Jak Payne. Mi public sentimints are dat I vil 
give you good dinnurs and plenti of munni, if you 
vil lect me your representatatative. My friends and 
connuxions are de Duk of Quinsbri, Lord Lodian, Lord 
Luffbro, Lord Malmsbri, Lord Clurmunt, Lord Cartrit, 
Sheridan, Gerri Lake, Jak Payne, Geo. Hangre, Burke, 
Singel Spict Hambledon, Eglintown, Master Lee, Trevis 
de Jew, yong Gray, all de Convays, Harri Standup, 
Tarletun and Tom Stepni. My principles are God 
dam de King and de Quin, de Pitt, and de Bustriksuns ; 
and God bles de Prince and all his broders, and de 
Duk de Cumberland. I say agen and agen dat de 
Prince be our lawful suvring, and not his fader. 
I am, gendelmen, your frind and sarvant, 

W. Velshie. 

This eccentric flight of humour was attributed 
to that "Tommy Onslow" who "could drive a 
coach and four," and it had a remarkable pol- 
itical effect at its moment of publication through 
the ridicule which it drew upon the Prince of 
Wales and his associates. The contemptuous 
familiarity with which the latter are enumer- 
ated had an undoubted effect on public opinion 
during the discussion on the proposed regency. 
This discussion, however, was terminated by the 
recovery of George III. from his first illness. 


On May 20, 1790, Lake became a major- 
general, but, in accordance with the rules 
explained above, retained command of his bat- 
talion until, on August 1, 1792, he succeeded 
to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the First Guards. 

In December 1792, when war with the French 
Republican Government was seen to be almost 
inevitable, the British Government, though stiU 
hoping to evade hostilities, reluctantly made 
some inadequate preparations for war. The 
militia was embodied and half-hearted eflforts 
were made to recruit the regular army. 

War was declared against England by the 
French Republic on February 1, 1793, and the 
British Government decided to throw an apology 
for an army into Holland to oppose the invasion 
of that country by the republican army under 
Dumouriez. Among the first troops ordered on 
this service was a brigade of Guards, composed 
of the first battalion of each regiment, and the 
command of the Brigade was conferred, almost 
as a matter of course, on Lake. 

The Brigade embarked at Greenwich on Feb- 
ruary 25, 1793, only twenty-two days after the 
receipt of the declaration of war; but this 
praiseworthy promptitude was marred by the 
numerical weakness of the Brigade, which num- 
bered no more than 1539 men. The Guards 


on leaving London were reviewed in St James's 
Park by King George III. and the Prince of 
Wales, and they subsequently marched to 
Greenwich and embarked there in boats in the 
presence of the king and of Queen Charlotte. 
They were then rowed to the transports by 
the Greenwich pensioners, the king taking off 
his hat as each boat full of soldiers left the 
shore, while the queen and the princesses waved 
their handkerchiefs in response to the cheering 
of the men. The Duke of York, who was to 
command all the king's forces in Holland and 
Flanders, arrived at The Hague on February 27, 
and on the same day the transports conveying 
the Guards Brigade put to sea.^ The Brigade 
arrived off Helvoetsluys on March 1, but the 
disembarkation was not completed until the 5th. 
Two days later the Brigade was concentrated at 

When the campaign of 1793 opened, the 
allied armies of Austria and England, with their 

' The word " transports," it may be mentioned, conveys a false 
impression, for the unreadiness of England for war was not con- 
fined to the army. Lake's weak brigade of Guards, and a few 
guns, were the only troops ready for immediate service, but there 
were no proper vessels in which these few men could be conveyed 
across the narrow seas. "The troops were huddled," says Sir 
Henry Bunbury, "on board of such empty colliers as could be 
found in the Thames, and by great good fortune they reached 
the coast of Holland without loss." 


Prussian, Dutch, and other allies, amounted to 
about 140,000 men, under the command of the 
Emperor of Austria, while the republican armies 
on the northern frontier of France numbered 
125,000 men. 

The march of the Brigade of Guards to Dor- 
drecht, under Major-General Lake, initiated the 
entrance of the British army into the long 
struggle against the French revolutionary forces 
which merged into the war against Napoleon, 
and endured almost continuously until the battle 
of Waterloo, — a period of over twenty -two years. 

When the Guards Brigade landed in Holland, 
the left wing of the French army, under the 
personal direction of Dumouriez, the commander- 
in-chief, was laying siege to Wilhelmstadt, a 
town on the southern bank of the Mouse, and 
near its mouth. The determined defence of the 
Dutch garrison and the arrival of the English 
troops in Holland checked the French advance 
at this point, and Dumouriez retired southward. 
The right wing of the French army was also 
driven in the same direction by the Austrians, 
near Lifege, and both wings shortly afterwards 
retired within their own frontier. Dumouriez 
was summoned to Paris to account for his 
failure, but having no wish to lose his head, 
he abandoned the republican service, and was 

lake's brigade is completed. 73 

replaced by General Dampierre, who presently 
concentrated his army near Valenciennes, form- 
ing an entrenched camp at Famars, south of 
that town. 

The British contingent, still very weak owing 
to the deficiency of sea - transport, established 
itself at Tournay, a town on the river Scheldt 
north of Valenciennes, the river affording a 
good means of conveying supplies and reinforce- 
ments from England. 

While halted at Dordrecht, the Brigade of 
Guards had formed a light - infantry company, 
composed of twenty -seven picked men from 
each of the three battalions. The officers of 
this company were specially selected, and the 
command conferred on one who had had 
experience of light - infantry work in North 
America. At the same time eight companies 
of light infantry were raised and trained by 
the Guards battalions in England, and in July 
1793 were sent to Holland, thus completing 
the Brigade to its complement of four battalions. 

Lake's Brigade arrived at Tournay on April 
23, and on the following day marched twelve 
miles to Orchies, and there took up a position 
on the right of the allied armies which were 
blockading the town of Cond^, fifteen miles 
south of Orchies. Dampierre's first attempt 


to relieve Cond^ was repulsed by the Prussians 
near St Amand, but a renewed attack seemed 
dangerous. The Duke of York was therefore 
ordered to march at midnight on May 8 to 
support the Prussians. The Duke, taking with 
him Lake's Brigade of Guards and a battalion 
of Hanoverians, arrived at the scene of action 
at 6 A.M. on May 9. A successful action 
followed, in which Lake's Brigade highly 
distinguished itself, the Coldstream battalion 
displaying special spirit. General Dampierre 
was killed, and the French army fell back on 
their entrenched camp at Famars. Major- 
General Lake received the thanks of the 
Emperor of Austria and of the Duke of York 
for his own conduct and for that of his 
Brigade at St Amand. 

In the middle of May the allied armies were 
reinforced, and it was decided to attack the 
entrenched position at Famars. The armies 
made a night march on May 22, and after 
two days' operations, the allies had taken up 
positions which rendered certain the destruction 
of the French should an assault prove suc- 
cessful. The republicans, disliking the prospect, 
evacuated their position during the night of 
May 23, and on the following day retired 
across the Scheldt to Denain. Valenciennes, 


garrisoned by 13,000 men, was now besieged, 
and, after a defence lasting forty -five days, 
capitulated on August 1. Lake's Brigade had 
28 killed and 64 wounded during this siege. 
After the fall of Valenciennes the allied 
armies met with little resistance. The re- 
publican forces had been driven from Holland 
and West Flanders, and the allies were firmly 
established on French territory with no less 
than 280,000 troops in the field. The French 
were disorganised, divided, and comparatively 
weak in numbers, and had the allies remained 
constant to their original purpose of marching 
on Paris and restoring the monarchy, there 
seems but little doubt that they would, for 
the time, have carried all before them, and 
so possibly have altered the history of the 
world. Conflicting interests and selfish con- 
siderations, the inherent defects of alliances, 
now, however, intervened, and the opportunity 
was lost. The Austrians hoisted the eagle 
standard over Valenciennes and Condd in place 
of the royal lilies of France, while the British 
Cabinet showed hankerings after the possession 
of Dunkirk, an ancient appanage of England. 

On August 10 the Duke of York's army, now 
about 35,000 strong, marched towards Dunkirk, 
and a week later Lake had an opportunity 


afforded him of showing his quality as a 

The northward movement of the British army 
towards Dunkirk had brought the Duke of 
York's headquarters on August 17 to Ghelins, 
a town due north of LUle. In this march 
Lake's Guards formed the rear -guard, and on 
the British left marched the Dutch contingent, 
commanded by the Prince of Orange. On the 
morning of August 18 the Prince attacked and 
captured a French entrenched position at Lin- 
ceUes ^ and Blaton ; but at about one in the 
afternoon, the French, who had been reinforced, 
attacked the Dutch with 5000 men, driving 
them out of the position and capturing their 
guns and ammunition. The Prince of Orange 
immediately sent an appeal for help to the 
Duke of York, and his messenger found the 
Brigade of Guards just pitching their camp at 
Menin, close to Ghelins, after completing a 
march of fifteen miles. The Guards were a 
little nearer to the scene of action than the 
other British troops, and the Duke of York, 
"knowing" (as the 'History of the Grenadier 
Guards' proudly says) "that the Guards were 
the first-turn-out boys," directed Major-General 

' The correct spelling is "LinseUes,'' but the old form, being 
familiar, has been retained. 


Lake to march without delay with his three 
battalions, and some guns under Major Wright, 
to support the Prince of Orange. 

Lake marched immediately, and as no time 
was available to collect stragglers, the three 
battalions of Guards mustered no more than 
1102 bayonets. Setting out at 2 p.m.. Lake 
arrived before Lincelles after a march of four 
hours, and formed up his Brigade in a field, 
where they were concealed from view by a 
crop of beans. 

Lake found the Dutch troops so dispirited by 
their defeat that they could not be brought again 
to the attack, and he therefore sent information 
to the Duke of York of his own dangerous 
position. The French, who subsequently ac- 
knowledged to having twelve battalions in the 
field, occupied two large and strongly constructed 
redoubts in front of the village of Lincelles, one 
guarding each of the roads which approached the 
village from the ground occupied by the British 
Brigade. Both flanks of the French position 
were protected by woods and ditches, and the 
approaches to the redoubts were guarded by 
strongly palisaded breast-works. In spite of his 
numerical weakness, and of the numbers and 
strong position of the enemy. Lake, who was a 
firm believer in the attack, immediately decided 


on an assault. The First Guards, who had led 
the march from Menin, at once opened fire, while 
the Coldstream and Third Guards formed up on 
their left. As soon as the deployment was com- 
pleted (the affair of a few minutes only, owing 
to the weakness of the battalions), the line fired 
three or four rounds and then advanced with 
fixed bayonets, in the teeth of a heavy fire of 
grape, and stormed the redoubts. 

The French were daunted by the impetuosity 
of the attack and gave way, but gallantly rallied 
in rear of the village. The Guards, avoiding 
this obstacle, again attacked, and drove the 
French off the field with a loss of twelve guns, 
one stand of colours, and seventy prisoners. The 
absence of cavalry alone prevented their defeat 
being converted into a rout. 

In explanation of the apparent rashness of 
General Lake's decision to attack so superior a 
force in a strong position, and also of the easy 
defeat of troops which so often showed fine 
qualities, it must be remembered that the revol- 
utionary armies in northern France were, at this 
time, very badly composed. The better class of 
the population had not as yet been drawn into 
the ranks, and it was mainly on account of his 
knowledge of their inferiority that General 
Dumouriez had considered it impossible to make 


a stand with them before the advance of the 
allies. The ' History of the Gren^idier Guards ' 
gives a curious illustration of this fact, stating 
that the Guardsmen when they got into the 
redoubts at Lincelles, instead of killing the puny 
French conscripts, treated them rather as a Lon- 
don mob, striking them with their fists and 
calling out, " Let him alone, — the little animal 
can't do much harm ! " History tells us what 
these "little animals" became in the hands of 

Inferior in quality as was the enemy, the 
prompt decision of Lake to attack a force so 
strong numerically, and so formidable from its 
advantage of position and superiority of artillery, 
caused the action of Lincelles to be regarded as 
the most brilliant exploit of what had, to this 
period, been a successful campaign. The strength 
of the three battalions of Guards on going into 
action was as follows : — 

First Guards (GoL Hulse commanding) . . 378 
Coldstream Guards (Col. Pennington commanding) 346 
Third Guards (CoL Greenfield commanding) . 378 

Total . . 1102 

Of this number, 2 officers and 37 sergeants, 
rank and file, were killed, and 8 officers and 
134 wounded, — a total of 181 casualties, or 


sixteen per cent of those engaged. The high 
proportion of killed to wounded shows that the 
fighting was sufficiently severe, and in his de- 
spatch on the action the Duke of York said 
with justice : "It can only be imputed to the 
ability of the commander and the extraordinary 
valour of the officers and men that the loss 
was not greater." 

The pursuit of the French was as thorough as 
weary infantry could make it, and did not cease 
till 10 P.M., when, fresh troops having arrived, 
the Guards Brigade marched back to their camp 
at Menin, which they reached at three in the 
morning of August 19, after the performance of 
what any soldier will realise to have been a 
fine day's work. 

During this day the Duke of York issued the 
following Order : " His E,oyal Highness the Com- 
mander-in-Chief returns his warmest thanks to 
Major-General Lake, Colonels Greenfield, Hulse, 
and Pennington, and officers and men belonging 
to the Brigade of Guards, to Major Wright and 
the artillery under his command, for the gallantry 
and intrepidity they so frequently showed in the 
attack of the French redoubts, &c., at the village 
of Lincelles yesterday evening." 

King George III. also caused the publication of 
a complimentary Order, in the following terms : 


"His Majesty has been graciously pleased to 
express the strongest approbation of the spirited 
and judicious conduct of Major - General Lake, 
and of the gallant behaviour of Colonels Green- 
field, Hulse, Pennington, and Major Wright, and 
of the rest of the officers and men who were 
engaged at the fort of Lincelles on the 18th 
instant. His Majesty very much laments the 
loss of Lieutenant-Colonel BosvOle, Lieutenant de 
Piesti, B,.A., and the non-commissioned officers 
and men who fell on that occasion, and it will 
affiDrd sincere satisfaction to his Majesty to be 
informed that those brave officers and men who 
had the misfortune to be wounded in the conflict 
are now in a fair way to recovery." 

In commemoration of the distinguished con- 
duct of Lake's Brigade, the king also authorised 
the regiments of Guards to emblazon the name 
" Lincelles " on their colours. Until, in quite 
recent years, the names of the victories of the 
great Duke of Marlborough were added to regi- 
mental distinctions, the name of "Lincelles" 
headed the honours of the Guards. 

A month after he had thus distinguished him- 
self, Lake fell dangerously ill, in consequence of 
the severity of the campaign. He was for some 
time too weak to travel, and only recovered 
sufficiently to proceed to England during October 


1793. A letter expressing a wish that none of 
his family should trouble to meet him at the 
coast is still preserved, and illustrates his unself- 
ish character. Lake's departure was regretted 
by the whole army, as stated in a letter from 
Major Harry Calvert, an officer of the Duke of 
York's staff, afterwards General Sir Harry Cal- 
vert. "We have been under much anxiety for 
General Lake, who has been very dangerously 
ill. He is sufficiently recovered to proceed to 
England, where, if the sincere wishes of those 
who have served in the campaign under his 
command could have any avail, he would speedily 
recover, for he is most universally beloved and 

By his enforced journey to England Lake was 
spared the unhappiness of witnessing the suffer- 
ings of the Duke of York's army during the 
terrible winter of 1793. 

On March 13, 1794, Major-General Lake re- 
sumed command of the Brigade of Guards, which 
he rejoined at Courtrai, and he served in com- 
mand of the Brigade, now completed to four 
battalions, at the severe action of St Amand or 
Turcoing, fought on May 17 and 18. During 
this action, in which the British army suffered 
heavy losses through the default of its allies. 
General Lake, while making a night march in 


heavy rain, fell with his horse into a deep ravine 
and was badly bruised. 

Later in the month Lake received the news 
of his appointment to the colonelcy of the 53rd 
Regiment, which severed his long connection 
with the First Guards and caused him again to 
return to England. Lake left Holland with a 
greatly enhanced reputation. He had shown 
his aptitude for command in action, and had 
confirmed his reputation for personal courage 
and coolness, qualities without which no com- 
mander can excel in the field. 

It must not be forgotten that the school 
which bred Lake, the typical hardy fighting 
leader of the English army, was the First Regi- 
ment of Guards. That Lake made himself what 
he was is no doubt in a great measure true, but 
credit is also due to the regiment in which he 
passed the most receptive years of his life. 




Lake had not long to wait for employment 
after his return from Holland, for his reputation 
as a soldier was now high. In December 1796 
he was placed on the staff of the army in Ire- 
land as a major-general, and received the 
command in Ulster, at the time the most dis- 
turbed district in that country, which was 
already ripening for revolt, although the actual 
outburst did not occur until eighteen months 
later, Very shortly after Lake's arrival in 
Ulster a force of 16,000 French troops was 
despatched for the invasion of Ireland, and, 
unmolested by the British fleet, arrived in 
Bantry Bay. The vessel in which General 
Hoche, the commander of the expedition, em- 
barked, faUed to reach the rendezvous. The 
French squadron remained for some length of 
time in Bantry Bay, waiting for orders, and 
was finally dispersed by rough weather and 


compelled to leave the Irish coast. Meanwhile 
Lord Carhampton, the commander-in-chief in 
Ireland, had hastily concentrated troops under 
Major - General Lake to oppose the expected 
landing, but it is very doubtful if the means at 
Lake's command would have enabled him to 
make an effective defence. 

The rebellion of 1798 was the culmination of 
the long-existing longing of Ireland to throw 
off English rule. The outbreak, encouraged by 
promises of help from the French republican 
Government, was organised by the association 
known as the United Irish Society, originally 
founded on a legal basis at Belfast in 1791, 
The declared aim of the society, as at first 
organised, was to obtain "an impartial and 
adequate representation of the Irish nation in 
Parliament," and, as a means to this end, to 
endeavour to secure the co-operation of Irishmen 
of all religious persuasions. The society was 
suppressed in 1794, and was then reconstructed 
on a new basis, and became treasonable in its 
objects. At the close of 1796, about the time 
of General Lake's appointment to the command 
in Ulster, a military organisation was grafted 
on the society, with the avowed intention of 
preparing for an armed rebellion. So rapidly 
did the conspiracy spread, and so generally was 


it embraced by the Boman Catholic population, 
that by the end of the year 1797 the bulk of 
the peasantry in three of the four provinces of 
Ireland were enrolled as United Irishmen, and 
were looking forward to an immediate rebellion 
in conjunction with a French invasion. 

In February 1798 the executive body com- 
puted that half a million men had been sworn 
into the society, of whom 280,000 could be 
counted on to appear in the field. Their vast 
numbers alone made the United Irishmen 
formidable, for they had no military skill ; and 
the history of the rebellion shows the incom- 
petence of their leaders and the characteristic 
vagueness and incompleteness of their plan of 
action. Had the French Government been able 
to throw an effective force of even 10,000 men 
into the country at the right moment, the 
history of the rebellion of '98 would have been 
different, though its end would have been the 
same. As things fell out, the rising did no 
more than to cause terrible sufferings to Pro- 
testants and Roman Catholics alike, and to 
leave bitter memories which the lapse of a 
century has failed to efface. 

As is frequently the case in such risings, 
one of the chief difficulties of the leaders was 
to select the moment for action. It is stated, 


though on doubtful authority, that the inten- 
tion of the executive body of the United 
Irishmen was to paralyse the Government by 
the simultaneous assassination of eighty of the 
leading officials and loyalists in Ireland. This 
sweeping action went too far in its intentions 
for a certain Mr Thomas Reynolds, a Roman 
Catholic gentleman, who defeated the design 
of his less scrupulous colleagues. In conse- 
quence of the information given by him, fifteen 
of the leaders of the United Irishmen were 
arrested on March 12, 1798, and on March 30 
martial law and " free quarters " were pro- 
claimed. The commander - in - chief in Ireland 
at this time was Sir Ralph Abercromby, a 
brave and humane soldier, so opposed to an 
oppressive policy that he had withdrawn from 
active service rather than be employed against 
the American colonies in the War of Independ- 
ence. Sir Ralph objected so strongly to the 
methods proposed by the Irish Government 
for the suppression of the rebellion that he 
tendered his resignation of the post of com- 
mander-in-chief, and left Ireland in April 1798, 
only five months after he had taken up that 
command. Pending the appointment of his 
successor, the command devolved on Lake, the 
senior general officer serving in Ireland, and, 


the rebellion breaking out in May, Lake was 
left to deal with an emergency against which 
he had no opportunity of preparing. 

The outbreak of the rebellion being attributed 
by certain writers to the licence accorded by 
Lake to the troops, and particularly to the 
measure of " free quarters," for which they hold 
him responsible, it seems well to remind the 
reader that Lake was never the permanent 
commander-in-chief in Ireland ; that he only 
officiated in that appointment for two months, 
pending the arrival of Abercromby's successor ; 
and that the measure of " free quarters " was 
ordered by Lord Camden, the Governor-General 
in Ireland, and not by the military authorities, 
who merely carried out the orders of the civil 

" Free quarters," it may be well; to explain, 
was the term used for the procedure adopted 
for disarming the population in disturbed dis- 
tricts. The method was as follows. Special 
notices to the inhabitants of certain counties 
were promulgated, summoning them to sur- 
render arms and ammunition within ten days, 
and announcing that if there was reason to 
believe that this had not been fully done, the 
troops would be sent in large bodies to live at 
free quarters among them, and other very 


severe measures would be used to enforce 
obedience. That the manner in which this 
procedure was carried out, particularly by the 
Irish militia, was one of the causes of the out- 
break, is doubtless true ; yet it is also true 
that the rebellion was certain to occur, and 
was already fully determined on by the bulk 
of the Roman Catholic population, and that 
every day lost before decisive action gave more 
time for organisation and the distribution of 
arms, and more opportunity for the co-opera- 
tion of the French Republic. The most bitter 
enemies of England, always unhappily to be 
found in the sister island, would find it difficult 
to say how the rebellion could have been 
checked and the population disarmed except 
by severe action. 

The formidable numbers of the rebels have 
been stated. To cope with them, and at the 
same time to guard the coasts against an ex- 
pected French landing, the Irish Government 
had about 41,000 infantry and 35,000 yeomanry, 
of whom from 18,000 to 20,000 only were 
mounted. Almost all this force of 76,000 men 
were under - officered militia and newly raised 
yeomanry, who were mainly responsible for 
the abuses which occurred. The great majority 
of the few regular troops maintained the high 


character of the British army, and it is fair 
to add that many of the militia regiments, 
particularly the Scotch and English corps, also 
behaved well. In defence of the militia, 
fencibles, and yeomanry, whose conduct was so 
strongly reprobated by Sir Balph Abercromby 
in his well - known general Order, the reader 
may be reminded that the numbers against 
them were formidable, and that the utmost 
barbarity was exhibited against them by the 
rebels. Although, too, historians have found it 
necessary to believe some at least of the stories 
of brutality on the part of the troops. English- 
men of to-day should have learned to accept 
such tales with great caution. During the 
South African War of 1899-1902, the news- 
papers of Europe were filled with circumstantial 
yet absolutely false charges of similar conduct 
brought against the English army ; and to the 
eternal shame of an unworthy section in Eng- 
land these calumnies were accepted and sup- 
ported by a considerable portion of the English 
press, and even by some English politicians. 
Irishmen, and, alas ! Englishmen, slandered the 
British army without a shadow of justifica- 
tion in 1900. We may then surely hope that 
the stories of 1798 were grossly exaggerated, 
if even they cannot be altogether rejected. 

lake's difficult task. 91 

Had Sir Ralph Abercromby remained in 
command, his humane nature would doubtless 
have impelled him to endeavour to deal with 
the rebellion by gentle means; but a study of 
history does not encourage the belief that such 
treatment confers a benefit on the insurgents. 
The deduction to be drawn is rather that 
prompt suppression, regrettable as its necessity 
may be, causes less suffering in the long-run 
than a mistaken benevolence, which is always 
taken for timidity, and so protracts resistance. 

Mr Lecky, who reviews with his accustomed 
fairness Sir Kalph Abercromby's conduct in 
quitting his post, points out that he greatly 
underrated the extent of the conspiracy and 
the real imminence of the danger. This was 
undoubtedly the case; but the result of Sir 
Ralph's departure on April 25 was that Lake 
found himself in a most awkward and critical 
position, and with no choice but to crush with 
the means at his hand the rebellion that he, 
at least, daily expected. 

One of Lake's principal difficulties, beyond the 
inadequacy and inferior quality of the garrison 
of Ireland, lay in the fact that Lord Carhampton, 
the predecessor of Sir Ralph Abercromby, yield- 
ing to political pressure, had permitted the troops 
to be so widely scattered that the rapid concen- 


tration of a serviceable force was impossible. 
During his short tenure of the command-in-chief 
Abercromby had done what was possible to im- 
prove matters in this respect, but the rebellion 
broke out before the army was ready to cope 
with it. 

The failure of the French Directorate to 
throw a force of 10,000 troops into Ireland 
decided the United Irishmen to act for them- 
selves. The measures of disarmament taken by 
Lake in the north had been effectual, and the 
leaders saw that longer delay would be danger- 
ous. The outbreak was therefore fixed to 
take place on May 23, and the seizure of 
Dublin was to be the first enterprise of the 
rebellion. Thanks to the ample supply of 
informers always produced by conspiracies, the 
Irish Government was well aware of what was 
intended, and most of the principal leaders of 
the United Irishmen were arrested on the eve 
of the insurrection. 

Notwithstanding this discouragement, numer- 
ous bodies of rebels appeared in arms on May 
23 and 24, and attacks were made on various 
garrisons in the counties of Dublin, Kildare, 
and Meath. These attacks failed, with the 
exception of one at the little town of Pros- 
perous, where from forty to fifty of the City of 


Cork militia and twenty Welsh yeomen were 
massacred in a treacherous and atrocious manner, 
most of them being burned alive. The leader 
in the massacre was a member of the Esmonde 
family, an officer in the Irish yeomanry, who, 
to allay the suspicions of the commanding 
officer at Prosperous, had dined with him the 
night before the massacre. Esmonde's guQt 
was fully proved at his trial, and he was in 
due course hanged at Dublin. 

Although the loss of their leaders had dis- 
concerted the plans of the rebels and substi- 
tuted for the intended seizure of the capital a 
number of isolated attacks, a large number of 
men were clearly in the field. Dublin, from in- 
ternal treachery, was still in considerable danger, 
and on May 24 Lake (who had been promoted 
Lieut. -General in January 1797) issued the fol- 
lowing proclamation of martial law : — 

" Lieutenant - General Lake, commanding his 
Majesty's forces in this Kingdom, having re- 
ceived from his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant 
full powers to put down the rebellion, and to 
punish rebels in the most summary manner, 
according to martial law, does hereby give 
notice to all his Majesty's subjects that he 
is determined to exert the powers entrusted 


to him in the most vigorous manner for the 
immediate suppression of the same ; and that 
all persons acting in the present rebellion, or 
in anywise aiding or abetting therein, will be 
treated by him as rebels, and punished accord- 
ingly. And Lieutenant -General Lake hereby 
requires all the inhabitants of the city of 
Dublin (the great ofl&cers of state, members of 
the Houses of Parliament, privy councillors, 
magistrates, and military persons in uniform 
excepted) to remain within their respective 
dwellings from nine o'clock at night till five 
in the morning, under pain of punishment." 

No great difficulty was experienced in sup- 
pressing the rebellion in the central counties. 
A number of small towns and villages fell for 
a time into the hands of the insurgents, and 
there were many massacres of Protestants on 
a small scale, and a great number of isolated 
murders. On account, however, of the loss 
of the leaders, there was little or no concerted 
action, and the small bodies of troops, attack- 
ing the rebels wherever they could find them, 
were generally successful in dispersing and dis- 
arming the rebels in the field. Signs of yielding 
were soon visible, and more than one tentative 
advance towards surrender was made by the 


insurgents. So far Leinster alone had risen. 
Connaught and Ulster remained perfectly peace- 
ful during the first days of the rebellion, and 
in Munster there was no more than a local 
disturbance near Cork and Limerick. 

But the flame of rebellion burst out presently 
with great fierceness in Wicklow and Wexford, 
and the course of events there showed how 
great would have been the danger had the 
rebellion been universal, as had been intended. 

It appears, unhappily, clear that in Wexford, 
at least, the misconduct of the militia and 
yeomanry, and particularly that of a corps of 
German cavalry and of the Welsh corps known 
as the Ancient Britons, was largely to blame for 
the outbreak. No Englishman can read the ac- 
counts of what was done in that county before 
the outbreak without profound regret, nor can 
any consolation be derived from a catalogue of 
the subsequent horrors perpetrated by the rebels. 
It can only be said that cruelty and oppression 
produced a yet more savage revenge. 

By singularly bad management — for which 
General Lake was, as we know, not to blame — 
Wexford had a weaker garrison than any other 
county of Ireland, the greater part of the troops 
there being yeomanry. 

Led by a priest, Father John Murphy, the 


Wexford rebels assembled on May 26, and two 
days later, after severe fighting, captured the 
town of Enniscorthy. The garrison, about 
300 infantry and yeomanry, sallied out to 
meet the attack, but the rebels, adopting an 
ancient device of Irish warfare, broke their 
ranks by driving among them a number of 
horses and cattle. The garrison were thus 
driven back into the town, where the loyal 
portion of the inhabitants stoutly supported 
them, and after a gallant resistance were finally 
driven through the burning streets and fled to 
Wexford, some fourteen miles distant. 

An officer of the army, who was present at En- 
niscorthy as a boy and subsequently at the storm- 
ing of San Sebastian, said that the two scenes 
were simQar. The loss of life at Enniscorthy was 
very great, three officers and eighty men of the 
garrison, besides many of the inhabitants, having 
fallen. "The town," writes Musgrave,^ "the 
morning after the rebels got possession of it, 
presented a dreadful scene of carnage and con- 
flagration ; many bodies were lying dead in the 
streets, and others groaning in the agonies of 
death ; some parts of the place were entirely 
consumed, and in others the flames continued 
to rage with inextinguishable fury. No less 

' Musgrave's Memoirs. 








than 478 dwelling - houses and cabins were 
burned in the town and its suburbs, besides 
a great number of stores, malt-houses, and out- 

The rebels now formed a roughly fortified 
encampment on the high ground overlooking 
Enniscorthy, making their headquarters on the 
highest point, called Vinegar Hill, and garrison- 
ing the town by regular reliefs. 

As Vinegar HUl was the nearest approach 
to a military position taken up during the 
rebellion, a description of the hUl and its de- 
fences may be interesting. "In a military 
point of view Vinegar Hill is strong. High 
grounds, gradually rising, are crowned by a 
cone of bold ascent; while the country beneath, 
being cultivated fields, is divided into numerous 
enclosures, and intersected by stone walls, hedges, 
and trenches. On the apex of the hUl stood 
the ruins of a windmill, and round the upper 
height some rude field-works were thrown up, 
as well as on a lower ridge which the rebels 
occupied as part of their position. For defence 
by irregular troops who trusted rather to 
numbers than to discipline, Vinegar HiU was 
particularly favourable, for the numerous en- 
closures afforded safe cover to skirmishers, wha 
could with perfect impunity severely annoy any 



columns advancing to assail the hill, and oblige 
an enemy to feel his way with caution." ^ The 
rebels made for themselves rude shelters in 
various parts of the hill, and the weather being 
unusually hot and dry, they lived very comfort- 
ably in this and other camps formed during the 
rebellion. At Vinegar Hill, moreover, the com- 
missariat was well managed and regular rations 
issued, all obtained by pillage from the neigh- 
bouring villages and the houses of the gentry. 
Wexford was thrown into great alarm by 
the fate of Enniscorthy, and an attempt on 
the part of General Fawcett to reinforce the 
garrison of Wexford having failed, and the 
commander of the garrison having been killed 
in an abortive sortie, that town was abandoned 
by the garrison and occupied without resistance 
by the rebels on May 30. In a short time the 
whole of the southern part of Wicklow was in 
rebel hands, and a reign of terror prevailed ; 
but the want of competent leaders was still 
much felt. 

The Wexford rebellion was by far the most 
important of the various disconnected risings 
that were now on foot, and the Vinegar HUl 
encampment became the recognised headquarters 
of the rebels from May 28 until its capture on 

1 Maxwell's ' History of the Irish Bebellion of 1798.' 


June 21. Without dwelling too much on the 
horrors that undoubtedly took place there, it 
must be recorded, in the measured and moderate 
language of Lecky, one of the most impartial 
of historians, that " great numbers of Protestants 
were brought to the rebel camp, confined in the 
old windmill, or in a barn that lay at the foot 
of the hill, and then deliberately butchered. . . . 
Many against whom no charge was brought, 
or who were popular among the people, or who 
could find some rebel to attest their innocence 
and their goodness, were dismissed in safety, 
with written protections from a priest. But 
aU who had borne any part in the floggings, 
burnings, and other measures of repression that 
had been so frequent during the last few weeks ; 
aU who had shown themselves active or conspicu- 
ous on the loyalist side ; all who were pronounced 
by the rebel tribunals to be Orangemen, were 
deliberately put to death." The most moderate 
of the Protestant historians of the rebellion says 
that little less than 400 persons were thus 
done to death by the insurgents at Vinegar 
Hill. As the rebellion in Wexford took so 
much the form of a religious war, it is only 
fair to add that many lives of Protestants were 
saved by the priests. 

On June 4 a great force of the rebels 


marched on the town of Gorey, in north Wex- 
ford, and were met by about 1500 militia and 
yeomanry, with five guns, divided into two 
small columns under Major-General Loftus and 
Colonel Walpole. The latter officer, who 
showed great incompetence, marched through 
narrow lanes without advanced or flank guards. 
His column was rushed by an overwhelming 
force led by a priest. Father John Murphy, 
and was taken completely by surprise. Wal- 
pole was killed, three of his guns were taken, 
and his column driven back in confusion with 
heavy loss. General Loftus then advanced, but 
was met by fire from the guns captured from 
Walpole, and found himself compelled to retreat. 

Had the rebels now advanced straight on 
Dublin, the capital would have been in great 
danger, but as usual they wasted time in 
plundering and drinking, and lost their 

While matters were being thus mismanaged 
at Gorey, a similar attack was made by the 
rebels on the town of New Boss, where the 
most severe fighting of the rebellion took place. 
The defending troops numbered about 1500, 
under Major-General Johnson. Here, as at Ennis- 
corthy, the rebels showed great gallantry and 
determination, and covered their advance against 


Johnson's troops by driving horses and cattle 
before them. The fighting was hand-to-hand, 
and great execution was done by the regular 
cavalry and yeomanry until the rebel pikemen 
were called to the front, whose weapons kept 
the cavalry at a distance whence their swords 
were useless. 

Two of General Johnson's guns were captured 
in the main street of the town, which had been 
fired by the rebels. Lord Mountjoy, at the 
head of the Dublin County militia, charged to 
recapture the guns, but was killed, and his men 
were driven back by sheer weight of numbers. 
For a time it seemed that the day was lost, 
but in spite of their desperate courage and 
numbers the rebels were incapable of combined 
action, numbers turning to plunder and drink. 
General Johnson rallied his troops, cleared his 
front by the fire of his remaining artillery, and 
after most severe fighting recaptured the town 
and his lost guns. Johnson, who had three 
horses shot under him, won the day by his 
personal qualities. The rebel losses at New 
Ross were not less than 2000 men, while the 
royal troops and the loyal citizens who joined 
them sustained 230 casualties. General John- 
son was given a baronetcy for his eminent 


A shocking incident connected with the fight 
at New Boss was the burning alive by the 
rebels of a number of their prisoners at ScuUa- 
bogue farm. The number who perished is 
variously stated : according to most Protestant 
writers on the rebellion there were 224 persons 
who were thus murdered, while Catholic his- 
torians have reduced the number to 80 or 100. 
The massacre of Scullabogue and that at Pros- 
perous are among the most horrible memories 
of the rebellion. 

The success of the rising in Wexford thoroughly 
alarmed the Irish Government. The fighting 
qualities and determination of the rebels were 
indubitable, and a few more successes might 
induce the formidable north of Ireland to rise 
also. Urgent appeals for reinforcements were 
therefore sent to England, and Lord Camden, 
who had confidence neither in Lake nor in 
himself, suggested that Lord • Cornwallis, a 
soldier of great experience and proved skill, 
should be sent to Dublin as governor -general 
and commander-in-chief This step was event- 
ually taken, but before the arrival of Cornwallis 
Lake had broken the back of the rebellion. 
To concentrate a sufficient force to deal with 
the rebel army in Wexford was the first and 
obvious necessity, yet concentration was difficult 


and dangerous. The wide dispersion of the 
garrison of Ireland has already been described, 
and there was a great risk that the removal of 
troops from any county or district would furnish 
the signal for a fresh rising. 

The religious aspect of the rebellion, disastrous 
as in some respects were its results, yet had 
its advantages. Partly from antagonism caused 
by the outrages against Protestants in Wexford, 
and partly from seeing the failure of the French 
Government to render prompt assistance at this 
favourable juncture, the north of Ireland for 
the most part held back. The Protestants, too, 
began to unite for their own safety. At Omagh 
alone 6000 offered their services without ex- 
pense to the Government, and their example 
was followed in other places. A rising took 
place at Antrim, followed by a fight in which 
Lord O'Neill was kiUed, but little or no support 
was obtainable from the country districts, and 
Antrim was soon quieted. This transient rising 
in the Protestant north was happily free from 
the atrocities committed in the south-east, but 
was punished with much severity. 

To return to Wexford. It wUl be remembered 
that a great body of rebels from Vinegar Hill 
defeated Colonel Walpole near the town of 
Gorey. The only garrison between that place 


and Dublin was that in the town of Arklow, 
which was weakly held at the time of Wal- 
pole's disaster. The garrison was quickly re- 
inforced to a strength of 1500, chiefly militia 
and yeomanry, but with some regular artillery. 
This force, commanded by Major-Greneral Need- 
ham, an officer who had distinguished himself 
in the American war, and had served with Lake 
at Yorktown, was attacked on the afternoon of 
June 9 by a great body of rebels, estimated by 
some writers at 34,000 men, but by Needham at 
not more than 19,000. The rebels had three or 
four guns with them, but could turn them to 
little account. A severe action of two and a 
half hours' duration followed, the rebels advanc- 
ing with the utmost courage in the face of a 
steady fire, and making determined efforts to 
capture Needham's guns. At 8.30 p.m. the 
attack died away. The rebels had lost very 
heavily, and their favourite commander. Father 
Michael Murphy, had fallen. Father Murphy 
led his men into action, waving in his hand a 
green flag emblazed with a white cross and 
the words "Death or Liberty," and he was 
killed by canister-shot within a few yards of 
the muzzle of a gun. The rebels had believed 
him to be invulnerable, and his fall greatly 
discouraged them. Their loss in the action of 

lake's enveloping movement. 105 

Arklow exceeded 1000, and it proved to be 
the last serious fight of the rebellion. 

Up to this moment the greatest alarm had 
prevailed at Dublin, and the Lord Lieutenant 
had taken the very unusual step of sending 
his wife to England. The flight of Lady 
Camden was to have been kept secret, but, 
according to Sir Jonah Barrington, on the night 
of her departure a full account of the affair was 
given in loud tones in Merrion Square by Lady 
Castlereagh to a friend standing in her balcony, 
and as two bishops happened to pass by at the 
moment, the secret could hardly be kept. 

After the defeat of the rebels at Arklow, 
matters at once began to mend. The bulk of 
the rebel forces took up defensive positions at 
Vinegar Hill and at a place called the Three 
Rocks, near Wexford ; and General Lake, see- 
ing his chance of dealing a death-blow to the 
rebellion, rapidly organised an enveloping attack 
on Vinegar HUl. 

By vigorous marching, some 13,000 to 14,000 
troops were concentrated within reach of the 
objective point, and were formed into six 
columns under Generals Johnson, Dundas, Need- 
ham, Duff, Loftus, and Moore. With this 
force Lake determined to recapture Enniscorthy 
and Wexford from the rebels, and also to 


surround and storm Vinegar Hill, the latter 
operation being timed to take place on June 21. 

A detailed narrative of the march of the 
severals columns is unnecessary, as, from causes 
beyond Lake's control, certain of the column 
commanders were prevented from a complete 
performance of the movements assigned to 
them. Major - General Moore (afterwards Sir 
John Moore) in particular, who was marching 
up from Waterford, became engaged on June 
20 with a large body of rebels from the Three 
Erocks, and although victorious after four hours' 
fighting, was prevented from taking his des- 
tined share in surrounding the Vinegar HiU 
position. The body of rebels who opposed 
Moore numbered from 5000 to 6000 men, of 
whom about 600 were armed with muskets. 
They were well handled and fought bravely, 
and General Moore, who had only 1000 men, 
had no easy task to defeat them. 

The column commanded by Major - General 
Needham, who had shown both skill and 
determination at Arklow, was also too late for 
the encircling movement. Needham had in 
his charge 400 impressed waggons, carrying the 
supplies of the whole army. With an enemy 
in great numerical strength close at hand, and 
experiencing much difficulty in controlling his 


drivers, many of whom were disaffected, it 
will be readily understood that Needham found 
that his march took longer than the calculated 
time.^ Knowing that the presence of his column 
was essential, he sent information of the delay 
to General Lake, requesting that the attack on 
Vinegar Hill might be delayed for one hour, 
in order to give his troops time to come up. 
Lake, however, was compelled to attack at 
once, as an immediate assault on the camp 
was necessary to prevent the enemy from de- 
taching reinforcements to the rebel garrison at 
Enniscorthy, who were then warmly engaged 
with General Johnson's Brigade. Needham 
then did his best by throwing his cavalry 
forward ; but although the latter did some 
execution, the gap caused by the non-arrival 
of Needham's infantry prevented the total de- 
struction of the rebels that had been intended 
and would have taken place. 

The assault on Vinegar HiU was carried out 
by the columns of Generals Sir James Duff, 
Dundas, and Johnson, the last-named advancing 

' General Needham was accused of being habitually dilatory, 
and by a jest that was probably antiquated even in 1798, was 
spoken of as "the late General Needham." He was, however, a 
good soldier. In 1818 General Needham succeeded his brother as 
Viscount Newry, and in 1822 he was created Earl of Kilmorey. 
He died in 1833. 


from Enniscorthy. Duff's light infantry and 
guns were commanded by Major-General Loftus, 
who was directed by Duff to seize a hill which 
commanded the lower defences held by the 
rebels. Loftus, breaking down the stone walls 
in his track, got his artillery into the required 
position and opened an effective fire. The 
rebel guns, thirteen in number, were badly 
served, but their musketeers clung bravely to 
the walls and rude entrenchments, and fired 
rapidly but wildly on the advancing troops. 
The assaults of Lake's column were well timed, 
and the troops pushed steadily on without a 
check, suffering but slight losses. Discipline 
and superior armament soon prevailed, and the 
rebels, availing themselves of the means of 
retreat which General Needham's absence pro- 
vided, went off in a body, leaving their guns, 
ammunition, a great collection of plunder, and 
many grim evidences of the horrors that had 
been perpetrated in the encampment. Lake's 
losses were very slight, amounting to 8 officers 
and 87 of other ranks killed and wounded. 
The rebel loss may have amounted to 300, 
mostly cut down in the retreat. 

During the fight between General Moore's 
column and the rebels from Wexford, in which 

lake's terms. 109 

the latter showed so much courage and military 
quality, a massacre of Protestant prisoners 
took place on Wexford Bridge. No less than 
ninety -seven prisoners are said to have been 
murdered in cold blood, with shocking cruelty, 
by those of the rebels who had no wish to 
share in the fight in which their braver com- 
rades were engaged. 

Nineteen of the prisoners were saved from 
death, and through one of them — Lord Kings- 
borough — the rebel leaders endeavoured to 
arrange terms for themselves with Major- 
General Moore. 

Moore submitted the letters proposing sur- 
render to General Lake, whose reply was 
as follows : " Lieutenant - General Lake cannot 
attend to any terms offered by rebels in arms 
against their sovereign. While they continue 
so, he must use the force entrusted to him 
with the utmost energy for their destruction. 
To the deluded multitude he promises pardon 
on their delivering into his hands their leaders, 
surrendering their arms, and returning with 
sincerity to their allegiance." 

In his letter to Lord Castlereagh, forwarding 
his despatch on the action of Vinegar Hill, Lake 
wrote as follows : " The troops behaved excess- 


ively well in action, but their determination 
to destroy every one they think a rebel is be- 
yond description, and wants much correction." 

Lord Castlereagh, in his reply, dated June 
22, writes : " His Excellency will express to 
you his approbation and satisfaction at every- 
thing you have done, and I sincerely congrat- 
ulate you on your successes at Vinegar Hill. 
I consider the rebels as now in your power, 
and I feel assured that your treatment of 
them will be such as shall make them sensible 
of their crimes, as well as of the authority of 
Government. It would be unwise, and con- 
trary, I know, to your own feelings, to drive 
the wretched people, who are the mere in- 
struments in the hands of the more wicked, 
to despair. The leaders are just objects of 
punishment." ^ 

Wexford was occupied by some of Major- 
General Moore's troops in the course of June 
21, and the active part of the rebellion in 
that county came to an end. The rebels were 
thoroughly disheartened by the easy capture 
of Vinegar HUl, and many writers assert that 
fear alone prevented them from a general 
surrender. Be this as it may, some 15,000 
men still remained in arms under Father John 

1 Memoirs, &c., of Viscount Castlereagh. 


Murphy after the surrender of Wexford, 
though two days later the number is said to 
have dwindled to 5000 or 6000. Father 
Murphy left the Three Rocks on June 22, and 
entered the County Carlow, intending to 
make for Castlecomer, a town in Kilkenny, 
where there was, in 1798, a considerable min- 
ing population, which Father Murphy expected 
to join him. On June 26 the rebels were 
attacked, defeated, and dispersed on Kilcomney 
Hill near Castlecomer by a force of 1600 men 
under Major - General Sir Charles Asgill, an 
officer whom we last met in unpleasant cir- 
cumstances in North America. 

One other considerable body of rebels re- 
mained in the field after the surrender of 
Wexford, which, after various wanderings, 
some temporary successes, and much suffering, 
found its way into Kildare, where for some 
time it kept up a guerilla warfare. 

Thus ended the serious operations of the 
Wexford rebels. There remained the punish- 
ment, which was terribly severe, and, owing 
to the indiscipline of many of the troops, of 
an indiscriminating nature. 

General Lake, though held responsible by 
historians for the execution of Father Roche, 
Captain Keogh, and other leaders in Wexford, 


certainly never approved or countenanced any 
irregularities committed by the troops. His 
whole history shows him to have been humane 
and kind-hearted, and such a man cannot have 
relapsed into savagery. Writing to Lord 
Castlereagh on June 23, Lake says : " Koach 
has been tried to - day and will be executed, 
as will Keogh, who was both general, adviser, 
governor of the town, &c. I really feel most 
severely the being obliged to order so many 
men out of the world, but I am convinced if 
severe and many examples are not made the 
Rebellion cannot be put a stop to." Moreover, 
when the executions of rebels took place in 
Wexford, Lake was no longer acting com- 
mander-in-chief. Lord Cornwallis arrived at 
Dublin on June 20, to find that Lake had 
made all his arrangements for the attack on 
Vinegar HiU at daylight the following morn- 
ing. Cornwallis left Lake to command in the 
field, but took immediate control of affairs, 
and on July 3 issued a proclamation author- 
ising the king's generals to give protection to 
such insurgents who had been guilty simply of 
rebellion and would now desert their leaders 
and take the oath of allegiance. The pun- 
ishment of the leaders was inevitable. 

The Government were indeed anxious to 

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Humbert's expedition. 113 

prevent further bitterness and to see Ireland 
quiet, for all through the rebellion there had 
been fear of the French Directory throwing 
an expedition into the country, and news had 
arrived that attempts were about to be made 
at several points of the Irish coast. The 
Directory were, of course, aware that the time 
had gone by when an expedition would have 
found rebellion in active progress. They had 
been anxious enough to take advantage of so 
fair an opportunity, but were disappointed by 
reason of the bad state of the French navy. 
Early in August, however, a small expedition 
consisting of three frigates was prepared, and 
set sail from the Isle of Aix on the 6th of 
that month, four days after the battle of the 
Nile. The intended landing-place was Donegal 
Bay, but after a long but unmolested passage 
against contrary winds, the expedition, flying 
the English flag, anchored in Killala Bay in 
County Mayo on August 22, and easily 
effected a landing the same evening. The 
French troops consisted of 82 officers and 
1017 of other ranks, under the command of 
General of Brigade Humbert, an experienced 
and practical soldier. The rank and file of 
the expedition consisted of veterans of the 
armies of Italy and the Rhine, who behaved 



throughout their service in Ireland with ex- 
emplary steadiness and moderation. Humbert 
had with him muskets and ammunition for 
4000 Irish, whose services had been promised 
by the revolutionary leaders, and about a 
quarter that number came forward on August 
23, and were hurriedly equipped and armed. 
Horses were also provided for the officers, 
artillery, transport, and for a party of fifty- 
seven cavalry who formed part of the expedi- 
tion, and sufficient carts and cars were collected 
for the carriage of supplies for the small 
column. Humbert saw from the first that 
he had arrived at the wrong moment and in 
an unfavourable locality. Connaught showed 
no general desire to help the invaders, and 
the very recent losses of the rebels in Wex- 
ford and the other counties in that part of 
Ireland had taken the heart out of the United 
Irishmen. Reinforcements, too, had arrived 
from England, in the shape of four regiments 
of regular infantry and 12,000 militia, and 
Lord Cornwallis had close on 100,000 men 
at his disposal. In spite, however, of the 
effi)rts of Sir Ralph Abercromby and of Lake 
to concentrate the garrison, by far the greater 
part of it was still scattered over the country, 
and Humbert found that no dangerously strong 


force could reach him for several days. Being 
a bold and enterprising soldier, he therefore 
decided to advance, trusting that some unex- 
pected successes might encourage the Irish 
to come to his aid in larger numbers. Small 
as was his force, Humbert formed a depot of 
a hundred men at Killala, commanded by an 
officer named Charost, who almost immediately 
obtained enough Irish recruits to exhaust his 
supply of spare arms. These recruits, however, 
were of very poor quality, and for the most 
part showed no anxiety to take the field, the 
most zealous being probably those who joined 
on Humbert's arrival. The French were aston- 
ished and amused at the simplicity of the 
Irish, who declared to them " that they were 
come to take arms for France and the Blessed 
Virgin." " God help these simpletons," said 
one of the French officers to the Protestant 
bishop of Killala ; "if they knew how little 
we care about the Pope and his religion, they 
would not be so hot in expecting help from 
us ; " and the old soldiers of the army of Italy 
exclaimed that, having just expelled the Pope 
from that country, they had never expected 
to meet him again in Ireland. 

On August 24 a French detachment under 
Colonel Sarrazin, Humbert's second-in-command, 


reconnoitred the town of Ballina, about six 
miles to the south-east of Killala, and finding 
that no serious opposition was to be expected, 
General Humbert advanced with his main 
body and occupied Ballina in the evening. 
The French troops numbered between 900 
and 1000, and were accompanied by armed 
Irish, whose strength is variously stated at 
from 1000 to 2500 men. Having made some 
prisoners, the French returned to Killala. 

The news of Humbert's landing reached 
Dublin on August 24, and British troops 
were now rapidly approaching the scene of 
action. Major -General Hutchinson, who com- 
manded in Connaught, had promptly collected 
all the troops that could be spared from Gal- 
way, Tuam, Loughrea, Gort, and Athenry, 
and, on the day that Humbert occupied Bal- 
lina, was at Castlebar, some twenty -six miles 
to the south, with about 1600 militia and 
yeomanry, 100 men of the 6th Regiment, and 
a detachment of the Royal Irish Artillery 
with 11 guns. There was on the same date 
a smaller British force, some 1200 men under 
Major - General Taylor, even nearer to the 
French. Taylor had been ordered to join 
hands with Hutchinson at Castlebar, but had 
taken up a strong position at Foxford, sixteen 


miles from Castlebar and only ten from 
Ballina. Lord Cornwallis himself marched 
rapidly from Dublin towards the French in- 
vaders, collecting troops as he went, and sent 
Lake forward to assume the command in 
Connaught. The Commander - in - Chief, who 
was unable to ascertain Humbert's actual 
strength, and was aware that other French 
expeditionary forces might be on the seas, was 
uneasy at the very advanced positions taken 
up by Generals Taylor and Hutchinson, and 
desired to have a man on the spot possessed 
of greater experience than Hutchinson. Lord 
Cornwallis has been accused of timidity in 
dealing with Humbert's expedition, but it 
must be remembered that the British Govern- 
ment had been warned, in March 1798, by 
their secret agents, that 275,000 troops under 
all the leading French generals, including Bona- 
parte, were ordered to be within twenty-four 
hours of the French coast. The best informed 
military opinion at the time was that 40,000 
troops, with the requisite proportion of guns, 
could be landed in Ireland.^ 

Lake arrived at Castlebar at eleven at night 
on August 26 and assumed the command. He 
ascertained from Hutchinson that his troops 

1 Caatlereagh Correspondence. 


were disposed to meet an attack from the 
direction of Foxford, which the latter believed 
to be the only line of advance available for 
the French. Hutchinson has been severely- 
criticised by various writers for assuming that 
Humbert could use no other road, but it does 
not appear that he or any of his troops had 
had an opportunity of reconnoitring the sur- 
rounding hills. Lake obviously had none, as 
the story has shown. 

We must now return to Humbert, whom we 
left at Killala on the night of August 24. On 
the 25th Humbert resumed his advance at eight 
o'clock in the evening, and marched for four 
hours towards Castlebar. He then heard that 
General Taylor was at Ballina in his rear, and 
fearing an attack on his base at Killala, 
hurriedly turned in his tracks. On reaching 
Ballina, Humbert found that Taylor had retired 
to Foxford, and he therefore made a halt of 
ten hours in order to rest his wearied troops. 
At 3 P.M. on August 26, Humbert again 
advanced towards Castlebar ; but instead of 
moving along the high-road by Foxford, where 
Taylor's force was reported to be, the French 
commander, guided by an Irish priest, marched 
across the hills by a little -known track, and 
came in view of Hutchinson's position before 


Castlebar at about six in the morning of 
August 27. Accident alone prevented a com- 
plete surprise. A yeoman whose farm was 
close to the mountain road was visiting his 
cattle at three in the morning, and saw a 
column of troops in blue uniform advancing 
rapidly. He at once mounted his horse and 
galloped into Castlebar, where he gave the 

The troops were quickly got under arms, and 
were disposed by Lake and Hutchinson in the 
position already selected by the latter on some 
heights before the town, and in the following 
order : In the first line were the small party 
of the 6th Regiment, the Kilkenny militia, 
and a detachment of the Prince of Wales' 
Fencibles. The guns were disposed slightly 
in advance. The Fraser Fencibles and Galway 
yeomanry formed the second line, and the 
mounted troops, part of the 6th Dragoon 
Guards and the 1st Fencible Cavalry, were 
drawn up in line with them. The reserve, four 
companies of the Longford militia, was posted 
in a valley in rear of the Kilkenny regiment. 

By 8 A.M. the French arrived within range 
of the British guns, and Humbert, halting 
his column under cover, rode forward and 
made a hasty examination of the British posi- 


tion. He then without hesitation advanced to 
the assault, placing his Irish volunteers in the 
centre, with a weak French battalion on either 
flank. He retained his third battalion and his 
mounted men, now about eighty in number, 
as a reserve. 

The British guns, well and steadily served, 
opened an effective fire, directed chiefly at the 
French battalions in the first line, both of 
which were checked. The Irish in the centre 
pressed bravely forward, but being received by 
a heavy fire at close range, broke and dis- 
persed, taking no more part in the fight. The 
check of the French was of very brief duration, 
for Humbert, seeing that the Irish militia 
opposed to him had opened a wild and harm- 
less fire, at once brought up his reserve, 
whereupon his first line battalions, veteran 
troops, quickly rallied. Sarrazin, the French 
second-in-command, placed himself in front of 
the grenadier battalion, which was on the left 
of the first line, and bringing the bayonets 
to the charge, rushed forward with the grena- 
diers in open order, followed by the remainder 
of the French troops. When they arrived 
within 150 yards of the British force, the 
militia broke and fled in uncontrollable panic, 
leaving the guns to their fate, in spite of the 


efforts of their officers and of the non-com- 
missioned officers of the Longford militia, who 
stood their ground after the regiment had 
broken. The detachment of eighty men of 
the 6th Regiment behaved well, and the 
artillery, under Captain Shortall, were also 
steady to the last. Of the mounted troops, 
a small body of yeomanry, under Lord 
Roden, alone behaved well, the remainder 
quitting the field in a disgraceful and cause- 
less flight, for the French were, of course, 
unable to make any effective pursuit. Deserted 
by the cavalry and by a great part of the 
Irish militia, who openly joined the French, 
a few brave infantrymen rallied in response 
to the appeals of their officers, and firing as 
they went from the successive walls and en- 
closures, formed up for a stand on the bridge 
of Castlebar : they had with them one light 
gun, manned by the survivors of the Royal 
Irish Artillery, which was placed on the 
bridge. The French coming up, attacked this 
small party, who were eventually compelled to 
retreat after losing half their numbers. The 
British loss at Castlebar was returned as 53 
killed, 34 wounded, and 279 missing, — the last- 
named having fallen in the retreat or deserted 
to the enemy. 


The French casualties were 186, chiefly caused 
by artillery fire, and were heavy in proportion 
to their strength. 

It is impossible to say precisely what caused 
the misconduct of the troops at Castlebar and 
their subsequent panic flight to Tuam, thirty 
miles from the battlefield. Much must doubtless 
be attributed to disafiection, for 500 of the 
Kilkenny and Longford militia deserted, it 
is said, to the French during the action ; ^ but 
the real cause of the defeat is probably to be 
found in the superior quality of the French 
troops, and in the advantage that always 
attaches to the attack. There was really no 
great disparity of numbers between the two 
forces, and to Lake's militia the sight of Hum- 
bert's veterans rapidly advancing with their 
bayonets at the charge was no doubt terrifying 
in the extreme. For the panic that followed no 
explanation need be attempted, for panics are 
unexplainable. They occur at times in all armies, 
and we, probably, have less to apologise for 

' 'La France et I'lrlande pendant la B^volution.' E. Guillon. 
1888. This statement may, however, be exaggerated, for the 
Bishop of Killala stated that " soon after the defeat at Castlebar, 
fifty-three deserters of the Longford militia marched into KiUala 
with their coats turned, and then put on blue French uniforms. 
Eighty more deserters of the Longford and Kilkenny (militia) 
joined the rebel camp during the next few days." 


than most nations with a long military history. 
Suffice it to say that at Tuam, Lake succeeded 
in rallying the portion of his force that had 
remained loyal, and that in the evening he 
wrote a hurried letter to Lord Cornwallis de- 
scribing the rout of his troops. Lake wrote a 
second and fuller letter to the Commander-in- 
Chief at five o'clock on the following morning 
{August 28), explaining what had happened. 

Lord Cornwallis received Lake's first letter 
at Kilbeggan early on the 28th, and wrote at 
once to the Duke of Portland asking for rein- 
forcements, for it was impossible to tell what 
might be the effect of Humbert's victory in 
reviving the rebellion. Cornwallis, who was at 
the head of nearly 8000 men, then advanced 
promptly to Athlone, and two days later was 
at Ballinamore. On September 4 he arrived at 
HoUymount, within thirteen miles of Castlebar. 

Up to this date Humbert had not moved after 
his victory, for he had been disappointed in his 
hope of a general rising of the country in his 
favour. Hundreds of recruits had joined him, 
but they were ignorant and undisciplined, and 
could not be quickly made into soldiers by 
officers who did not know their language. The 
approach of Cornwallis and his army made a 
further delay impossible, and on the morning of 


September 4 the French expedition set out, 
marching rapidly in the direction of Sligo. 
Here there was a chance of meeting reinforce- 
ments from France, and also of raising a rebellion 
in a part of the country where there was no 
strong body of British troops. 

Meanwhile Lake had succeeded in getting his 
force into something approaching fighting trim. 
The disaffected or untrustworthy corps of militia 
had been despatched to Athlone, and the force 
under Major-General Taylor, which had retreated 
eastward from Foxford on hearing of the defeat 
at Castlebar, was placed under his orders. 

It was clear that Lord Cornwallis had not 
considered Lake to blame for the misconduct of 
his troops, nor for any error in the position taken 
up by Major - General Hutchinson, which Lake 
had had no opportunity of correcting. Hutch- 
inson (afterwards Earl of Donoughmore) was, 
though of strange appearance and ungracious 
manners, a man of superior ability. He was, 
said Sir Henry Bunbury, " a man of no ordin- 
ary mark. He was a good scholar; he had 
read much and profitably ; his understanding 
was strong, his information extensive. On 
military subjects his views were large ; and 
his personal bravery was unquestioned." 

When Cornwallis drew near Castlebar, he 


ordered Lake, who was at Ballaghy, to co- 
operate with him and to follow in Humbert's 
tracks without hazarding a general engagement, 
for misleading and contradictory reports reached 
him from various quarters as to the strength of 
the French force. Cornwallis also sent forward 
Colonel Crauford with the Hompesch Dragoons 
and Lord Roden's horse to harass the French 
column and keep touch with it. Lord Corn- 
wallis himself marched towards Carrick-on- 
Shannon, in order to guard against any 
possibility of a dash on the part of Humbert 
towards Dublin. 

Humbert's column approached Sligo early in 
the morning of September 5, and was unex- 
pectedly opposed at CoUooney by a small part 
of the Sligo garrison, which, under Colonel 
Vereker, had taken up a position there to check 
the French advance. Both sides were mistaken 
as to the strength of their enemy, Vereker 
believing that he had to deal with a small 
detachment from Humbert's force, while Hum- 
bert assumed that Vereker 's force was the 
advanced-guard of a large force. Vereker had 
with him no more than 270 of the City of 
Limerick militia, 30 dragoons, and 2 guns, but 
with this small force he held his position for 
an hour and then retired in good order. 


Leaving Sligo on his left, Humbert marched 
on at 10 P.M., spiking and abandoning his 
captured guns, and by noon on September 6 
he had reached Manor Hamilton, twenty-two 
miles from CoUooney. At this point Humbert 
changed his direction in consequence of exag- 
gerated reports which had reached him of risings 
in Longford and Westmeath. He therefore 
made towards Granard, and the British troops 
were thus enabled to surround him. 

Marching south from Manor Hamilton, Hum- 
bert arrived at Drumkiern at seven in the 
evening of September 6. Here Colonel Crauford, 
who had clung to the French persistently, 
demanded a capitulation, which was refused, and 
the next morning at nine Humbert crossed the 
Shannon at Ballintra, Crauford seizing -the 
bridge after the French had crossed before they 
were able to destroy it. 

On the same day Major-General Moore was 
despatched by Lord Cornwallis with his column 
of 2000 men and placed at Lake's orders, to give 
the latter suflScient strength in case he found 
opportunity to attack. Cornwallis himself, with 
the main body, was at French Park on the 6 th, 
intending to cross the Shannon at Carrick and 
to move up the left bank of that river. Corn- 
wallis did, in fact, begin to cross the Shannon 


on September 7, on which day, at 6 p.m., 
Humbert arrived at Cloone, with Crauford still 
hanging on his flank, and closely followed by 
Lake, with Moore in support. 

The French infantry was now exhausted by 
constant night marches in wet weather, and 
although a rapid move eastward was the only 
chance of escape, Humbert was compelled to 
give his men a night's rest. At 5 A.M. on 
September 8 he again set out, heading for 
Granard ; but at dawn that day Lord Cornwallis 
had arrived at Mohill, almost in view of 
the French force, and Humbert was at last 
brought to bay. Lake now received orders to 
attack the French rear-guard, and bringing up 
his infantry at the best pace they could set 
after constant marching for four days and 
nights, he despatched some of his mounted 
troops to strengthen Crauford, who at once at- 
tacked the French rear-guard near Ballinamuck. 
The rear-guard, 200 strong, was compelled to 
surrender, but when Major - General Cradock, 
chief of the staff, approached the French main 
body to demand their surrender, he was fired 
on and wounded. 

Lake then attacked with his leading infantry, 
and after half an hour's fighting Humbert's 
whole force surrendered. The French narrative. 


already quoted, gives Humbert's numbers at the 
time of the surrender at 96 officers and 844 
men, and agrees with General Lake in stating 
that the Irish portion of his force amounted 
to 1500. Humbert, on finally leaving Ballina, 
had taken with him the 200 men that he had 
originally left between that place and Killala, 
and had thus made good his losses at Castle- 
bar. From these figures it is evident that his 
casualties were very few except in that action, 
and that his force had left behind it hardly 
any stragglers during its forced march from 
September 4 to 8. 

The 1500 Irish insurgents who accompanied 
Humbert were not included in his capitulation. 
They were dispersed by the cavalry and fled 
in all directions, leaving, it is said, 500 dead 
on the field, probably a considerable exaggera- 
tion. KiUala was held for a time by some 2000 
rebels, but was recaptured on September 23, 
after a brave resistance. 

Humbert's achievement was in many respects 
a remarkable one, though it quickly ended in 
failure, for he had kept the field for seventeen 
days with a thousand regular troops, very weak 
in mounted men and artillery, in a country 
garrisoned by a large army. The circumstances 
were, however, such that but a small portion 

Humbert's conduct. 129 

of this army could be brought against him, 
while the country in which he operated was 
sufficiently in sympathy with him to assist 
him with supplies and information, and with 
more recruits than he could efficiently train 
for fighting. 

Humbert himself was a brave and capable 
officer though of inferior education, and like 
his second-in-command, Sarrazin, a good speci- 
men of the generals of the French Revolution. 
Humbert failed in his bold attempt on Ireland 
through no fault of his own, for he was de- 
spatched with an insufficient force and at the 
wrong moment, but he deserves much honour 
for the courage and enterprise which he showed, 
and for the moderation of his conduct, — a credit 
fully shared by the rank and file of his little 

Humbert, it may be added, was well treated 
by the British Government, and was soon 
released from captivity. In March 1799 he 
volunteered to repeat his exploit, but on this 
occasion he demanded a force of 12,000 men. 

By November the embers of the rebellion 

of 1798 had been stamped out, and the Irish 

Parliament voted the sum of £100,000 for 

loyalists who had suffered losses. Its thanks 

were also voted unanimously to the yeomanry, 



militia, and regular army. Lord Caetlereagh, 
who introduced the motion, gave the first place 
to the yeomanry, whose services, he said, had 
effected the salvation of their country. Although 
only raised for local service in their own districts, 
they had willingly gone wherever they were 
required. After the Irish yeomanry Lord Castle- 
reagh placed the English militia, who, though 
not obliged by law to serve out of their own 
country, had volunteered to do so. Then came 
the Irish militia and fencible troops, the large 
majority of whom, in spite of some defections, 
had displayed great loyalty. It is needless to 
add that the rebellion caused Ireland heavy 
loss of life and property, and, from its unhappy 
declension into a religious war, left behind it 
an abiding bitterness far greater than would 
have been aroused by an unsuccessful national 

A century of well-meant effort on the part 
of England to restore contentment to unhappy 
Ireland has apparently met with little, if any, 
success in wiping out the memory of '98. 

After the suppression of the rebellion. Lake 
remained for some time in Ireland, and entered 
the Irish Parliament as member for Armagh, 
voting, as a matter of course, for the Union. 
In October 1800 his services were rewarded 

lake's rule in war. 181 

with the great appointment of Commander-in- 
Chief in India, for which country he presently 
sailed, arriving at Calcutta on January 31, 

Lake was accompanied by his second son, 
Captain George Lake, 34th Regiment, as aide- 
de-camp, and also by his four unmarried 

Lake's appointment to this great independent 
command gave him the opportunity of show- 
ing that he had mastered the secret of success 
in war, the one rule to which there is no 
exception, the superiority of activity over in- 
action, of the attack over the defence. Such 
a line of conduct was no doubt natural to 
Lake from his inborn character, and all the 
events of his long military career had con- 
firmed him in the belief that the course which 
was natural to him was also the best. In 
early youth he had borne a part in the opera- 
tions of the great Frederick, though not under 
his immediate command ; in America he had 
shared in the humiliation of Yorktown, when 
Cornwallis, even if by no fault of his own, 
took up the role of passive defence ; at Lin- 
celles his weak brigade had triumphed over a 
largely superior force strongly posted ; and in 
Ireland he had witnessed a similar triumph 


won by a French column of much the same 
strength and composition. Everywhere he had 
seen the attack triumph, the defensive fail. 
From such a lifelong experience we may im- 
agine how a belief grew in the mind of Lake 
that to the bold all things were possible ; and 
now, at the age of fifty-six, he was enabled to 
put his theory into practice ; and, as will be 
seen, he did so in the most consistent manner, 
and with a success that has been rarely equalled 
in war. 




The Maratha power was founded in the middle 
of the seventeenth century by Sivaji, who formed 
a state in the south-western portion of the mori- 
bund Moghul empire. It tended to decay under 
his son Sambaji, was restored by two great 
officers, Mulharji Holkar and Ranoji Sindhia, but 
was for a time crushed by the defeat of its 
armies at Panipat in 1761 by the Afghan 
invader Ahmad Shah Abdali. 

From Panipat there escaped one of the house 
of Sindhia, Madhaji by name, who by his extra- 
ordinary talents restored his race to its former 
power and influence. Ten years after the 
battle of Panipat, Madhaji Sindhia entered 
Delhi as a conqueror, the titular emperor, 
Shah Alam, in his train. In 1778 he came 
to blows with the English, and owing to the 
feebleness and incompetence of the Bombay 
Government, forced on it the humiliating treaty 


of Wargaum in 1779. This treaty was repudi- 
ated by Warren Hastings, the Governor-General, 
who sent a small force across India, from east 
to west, and retrieved the reputation lost in 
Bombay. In 1780 Madhaji was defeated by 
Camac in Central India, and his most valued 
possession, the great fortress of Gwalior, was 
captured by a small detachment under Major 
Popham — an astonishing exploit. Warren Hast- 
ings, while thus checking the Marathas, was 
conducting a desperate war in the south of 
India against Haidar Ali of Mysore, who was 
supported by France. He was therefore willing 
to come to terms with the Marathas, and peace 
with them was concluded in February 1782. 

Thus set free, Madhaji Sindhia soon became 
paramount in Western, Central, and North- 
Western India, obtaining for the Peshwa, who, 
though a Brahman, was nominally the head 
of the Marathas, the title of Vicegerent of 
the Empire, but himself ruling as the deputy 
of the Peshwa and of the Emperor. Real- 
ising that he who desired to be supreme in 
India must sooner or later measure his strength 
with the British, Sindhia next set about the 
reorganisation of an army on the European 
model, under the command of some 300 officers 
of various nationalities, but chiefly French. 


Death now intervened, and just as Madhaji 
Sindhia was preparing a general combination 
against the English, he died of fever in 
February 1794, Madhaji was succeeded by his 
great-nephew, Daolat Rao Sindhia, whose youth 
stood against his claim to preponderance, and 
once more the Maratha states were at variance 
one with the other. It may be convenient, 
at this point, to explain the geographical terms 
used in India in 1803, Hindustan was the 
name then, and indeed still, applied by the 
natives to the tract of country south of the 
Punjab, and lying between the rivers Sutlej 
and Chambal, In its easterly portion were 
included the provinces of Oudh and RohU- 
khand. South of the Chambal lay Rajputana, 
and east of that country were the states of 
Malwa and Gwalior, the original possessions 
of Sindhia and Holkar. Yet farther east lay 
Bhopal and Bundelkhand, South of the Nar- 
bada was the region known as the "Deccan" 
(or southland), itself divided into many king- 
doms and lesser states. 

Lord Wellesley, then Lord Mornington, 
arrived in India in April 1798 with instruc- 
tions to preserve the balance of power between 
the native princes as provided by the treaty of 
Seringapatam (1792). The dissensions among 


the Maratha states had already altered the 
balance, and their consequent weakness had 
conferred a dangerous strength on Tipu of 
Mysore, the successor of Haidar, who was 
arranging an alliance with the French and 
encouraging an Afghan invasion of Northern 
India. Lord Mornington was consequently 
compelled to declare war against Tipu, who 
was defeated and kUled at Seringapatam in 
AprU 1799. Lord Mornington was created an 
Irish marquis, and thenceforth appears in his- 
tory under his new title of Wellesley. 

Diu-ing and after the Mysore War the 
struggle for the mastery between the leading 
Maratha chiefs continued to grow in intensity, 
and year by year the difficulty of preserving 
the peace in India grew greater. A further 
complication had been caused by the death 
in 1795 of Tukaji Rao Holkar, the ruler of 
Indore, and the consequent struggle among his 
sons for the reversion of his power. Finally, 
Jaswant Rao, the ablest among them, seized 
the throne of Indore, and immediately entered 
on a war with Sindhia. The unfortunate 
Peshwa, the nominal head of the Maratha 
princes, fell under the sway of Holkar and 
Sindhia alternately, as one or the other 
triumphed. In October 1802 Holkar defeated 


the forces of the Peshwa and of Sindhia before 
Poona, the Maratha capital ; but this victory 
had a disastrous effect on Holkar's fortunes, 
and brought matters to a climax, for the 
Peshwa now fled from both Sindhia and Holkar 
and placed himself under British protection, 
signing on the last day of 1802 the treaty of 

It was obvious that this treaty, which made 
the head of the Maratha confederacy a per- 
manent tributary of the British Government, 
would be a severe blow to Holkar and Sindhia, 
who both aspired in the future to control the 
Peshwa, and Lord Wellesley, while far from 
desirous of war, and while showing the utmost 
patience towards the angry chieftains, was com- 
pelled to prepare to meet an attack. 

The first essential was to protect the Peshwa 
from being dragged into war against his will, 
and with this object the Governor - General 
directed his brother, Major - General Arthur 
Wellesley, to march on Poona from Mysore 
with 15,000 troops. Holkar was still in oc- 
cupation of the Maratha capital ; but he had 
not yet come to terms with Sindhia or the 
Baja of Berar, the other leading Maratha chief 
of the south, and he was not minded to fight 
the British single - handed. He therefore fell 


back into his own dominions as General 
Wellesley approached, and the latter occupied 
Poona without firing a shot on April 20, 1803. 

At the same time that Lord Wellesley 
ordered his brother to advance on Poona, he 
sent orders to General^ Lake, who was at Cawn- 
pore, to be in readiness to commence hostilities 
against Sindhia in the north at any moment. 

The question of peace or war now rested 
with Sindhia, to whom the unpalatable fact 
was evident that if he acquiesced in the treaty 
of Bassein he would never realise the Maratha 
Empire designed by his great- uncle, nor the 
expulsion of the English from India. The 
patience shown by Lord Wellesley in giving 
Sindhia ample time to make up his mind was 
even excelled by Colonel CoUins, the Resident 
at Sindhia's Court, who was most anxious to 
avert war. Negotiations dragged on until the 
month of June, when Sindhia and the Berar 
Raja had prolonged interviews, Colonel Collins 
repeatedly pressing Sindhia to declare his in- 
tentions. No answer was obtainable, and it 
soon became evident that the two chiefs were 
endeavouring to persuade Holkar to join them. 

At last, about the middle of July, the 
tension became unendurable, and Lord Wellesley 

I He had been promoted to this rank in April 1802. 


directed his brother to call on Sindhia and the 
Berar Baja to separate their armies, adding 
that if Sindhia would return to his own 
dominions the British troops would also retire 
into their cantonments. To this appeal no 
definite answer was given, and the Maratha 
armies remained united. 

Lord Wellesley having waited from June 4, 
the date on which the two Maratha chieftains 
had their first meeting, to August 1, saw that 
Sindhia and the Bhonsla intended war though 
they would not declare it, directed Colonel 
Collins to leave Sindhia's camp, and ordered 
the armies of Lake and Arthur Wellesley to 
commence operations. 

The total strength of regular troops in the 
three presidencies on the outbreak of the 
Maratha War was approximately as follows : ^ — 

British cavalry .... 2,880 

II infantiy .... 14,500 

Native cavalry .... 5,850 

II infantry .... 81,480 

Or a total of 104,710 cavalry and infantry, with 
2400 artillerymen. 

The only Horse Artillery battery in India 
was in process of formation, and was not fit 

' 'The Campaigns of Lord Lake against the Marathas.' Major 
Selsham Jones, R.E. 1881. 


for service until the war had been some time 
in progress. The bulk of the artillery was 
distributed among units, two light, or galloper, 
guns being attached to each cavalry regiment, 
while each brigade of infantry also had with 
it a proportion of guns. 

It need hardly be stated that the Anglo- 
Indian army was widely scattered, and it was 
only by running very considerable risks that 
Lord Wellesley was able to put about 60,000 
men into the field. 

It is very difficult to ascertain the real 
strength of the armies of Sindhia and the 
Berar Haja. According to Thorn, who was 
supplied with information by English officers 
who had recently left the Maratha service, 
Sindhia had about 40,000 regular troops, with 
450 guns, in addition to an immense number 
of irregulars. His artillery was much superior 
in training and in materiel to that of any army 
previously encountered by the British in India; 
and his regular infantry, though written of in 
these pages, as in other works, as Marathas, 
were in fact almost to a man natives of Oudh, 
Rohilkhand, and the Doab. 

The Berar Raja's army, though inferior in 
training to that of Sindhia, was formidable 
from its numbers, had a powerful artillery, 


and contained an Arab contingent of excellent 
fighting quality. According to Grant - Duff, 
and there is no higher authority, the united 
armies of Sindhia and the Berar Baja totalled 
about 100,000 men, of whom 50,000 were horse, 
and upwards of 30,000 were regular infantry 
and artillery. In addition were from 10,000 
to 12,000 men under a chief named Shamshir 
Bahadur, who held Bundelkhand as a tribu- 
tary of the Peshwa, and joined the confederacy 
against the British. 

As we are concerned with the operations of 
General Lake's army only, a mere sketch will 
now be given of the general plan of campaign 
which had been decided on by General Lake 
in consultation with the Governor-General and 
Major-General Arthur Wellesley. 

The circumstances leading up to the declara- 
tion of war had caused a concentration of 
troops in the neighbourhood of Poona. These 
troops were divided into two corps, — one com- 
manded by Major-General Arthur Wellesley, 
the other by Colonel Stevenson, who, however, 
acted under Wellesley's orders. Attached to 
the combined force were some Mysore cavalry 
and a mounted corps contributed by the 
Peshwa. Altogether, General Wellesley had 
about 17,000 men under his orders, of whom 


5000 were auxiliaries of poor quality. He had 
also a reserve of 7000 men close at hand. 
General Wellesley's task was to destroy the 
armies of Sindhia and the Baja of Berar, who 
together had in the southern theatre of war 
about 50,000 men, with upwards of 100 guns. 

The Maratha states in 1803 ran right across 
India, the province of Cuttack, which belonged 
to Berar, lying on the north-east coast of 
the peninsula and dividing the Bengal and 
Madras presidencies. On the west the Gaikwar's 
dominions in Gujarat had a long sea -board to 
the north-west of Bombay. The Gaikwar, the 
chief of the western Marathas, whose capital 
at this time was Ahmadabad, had not joined 
in the war, but his attitude was uncertain. 

Two forces were therefore allotted to the two 
maritime states, 5000 men under Colonel Har- 
court having instructions to seize Cuttack, 
whUe 4200 men under Colonel Woodingfton 
were to occupy Gujarat. To dispose of the 
minor operations, it may suffice to say that both 
Colonels Harcourt and Woodington achieved 
their objects with ease, and the Marathas were 
consequently cut off from any hope of assistance 
by sea from the French. 

In the northern theatre of war General Lake 
himself commanded. Under his personal orders 

lake's task. 143 

was a force which when concentrated amounted 
to about 10,000 men. This force, immediately 
before the outbreak of war, lay in its canton- 
ments at Cawnpore, Fatehgarh, and some smaller 
stations in the ceded districts of Oudh. 

General Lake also had at his orders a force of 
3500 men stationed at Allahabad, under Lieut.- 
Colonel Powell. This force was intended to 
deal with Shamshir Bahadur and occupy the 
province of Bundelkhand as soon as Lake con- 
sidered it safe for it to advance. 

The share to be taken by the Commander-in- 
Chief in the widely extended operations which 
he had planned with Lord Wellesley was to be 
no light one. He had undertaken, with his very 
small force, to deal first with that portion of 
the disciplined army created for Sindhia by 
Count de Boigne and General Perron that might 
be found in the region styled by Lord Wellesley 
" the French state." This term referred to the 
Doab, the great territory lying between the 
rivers Ganges and Jumna which had been handed 
over successively to the two French generals for 
the payment and equipment of the regular army, 
and to provide their own salaries. De Boigne 
had left India in 1795, and the command had 
since been exercised by General Perron, who 
was now not only commander - in - chief of 


Sindhia's army, but had recently been prac- 
tically dictator of the dominions of the King 
of Delhi and wielder of the power that still 
attached to the government of the Moghul 
empire. In support of this army — formidable 
enough by itself from its numerical strength, 
training, and discipline — were the vast hordes 
of irregulars of various nationalities that 
served Sindhia himself and the numerous 
princes of Hindustan, all more likely to sup- 
port the actual master of Delhi than the 
numerically weak British army. Behind them 
again were the Sikhs and Afghans, unlikely, 
it is true, to act in unison with one another, 
but either power a source of danger in the 
event of a reverse to Lake's small force. 

As regards the strength of Sindhia's army 
in Hindustan, the greater part of the regular 
battalions were, shortly before the war, far 
away in the Deccan, but Perron himself had 
remained in the north and had nineteen bat- 
talions with him. Fifteen more had been ordered 
up from Sindhia's own territory to Delhi, and 
were rapidly approaching. Perron's force, well 
armed and equipped, was based on the strongly 
fortified cities of Delhi and Agra, which were 
provided with independent garrisons, and on 
his arsenal in the great fortress of Aligarh. 


The Maratha regular army had in the past 
often shown high fighting quahty, and was 
composed of veteran soldiers drawn from the 
fighting races of Hindustan, inured to the 
hardships of war and accustomed to victory. 

To meet this fine force in the field, and to 
capture its strong places, Lake had no more at 
his disposal than 10,000 men of all arms; and 
inasmuch as it seemed to him more important 
to strike his first blow before his enemy expected 
him to move, than to await the concentration 
of the whole of his small army, he actually took 
the field with little more than half this in- 
considerable force. 

In addition to the destruction of Sindhia's 
regular army in Hindustan and the capture 
of his strongholds. Lake undertook with his 
meagre 10,000 to defend the northern and 
western frontibrs of Bengal against the opera- 
tions of Sindhia, devoting to that duty two 
of his three brigades of cavalry and one 
brigade of infantry, which watched the frontier 
near Cawnpore during the opening stages of 
the campaign. 

It appears in the correspondence between 
Lake and Lord Wellesley prior to outbreak 
of war that there was a difference of opinion 
between them as to the safer course of action 



for the former to pursue. Lord Wellesley 
suggested the capture of Delhi and Agra as 
the first steps, Perron's army and Aligarh to 
be dealt with subsequently. General Lake, 
with all the deference to the Governor-General 
suggested by his strong sense of discipline, 
held firmly to his own view, that no move- 
ment on Delhi would be safe with Aligarh 
and Perron's regular army left between him- 
self and his base at Allahabad. Lake admitted 
the risk, pointed out by Lord Wellesley, 
that while he was attacking Aligarh, Sindhia 
might slip past him and raid the Company's 
territory, but he maintained that his plan of 
campaign was the less dangerous of the two. 

The Governor- General, who was superior to 
all false pride, frankly gave way, and it is 
hard to say which of the disputants deserves 
the higher honour. Lord Wellesley was unac- 
customed to encounter such independence of 
character, and that he valued it appears from 
the tone of his correspondence with Lake. 
Courteous from the first, it soon abounded in 
expressions of cordial friendship as the course 
of the campaign and its vicissitudes made him 
fully acquainted with the courageous and 
generous character of Lake. Generosity and 
courage indeed were congenial qualities to 
Lord Wellesley, who, like Lake, was ever 

lake's ten thousand. 147 

ready to assume responsibility or to shield a 

In addition to the military programme which 
he himself had laid down, entailing the cap- 
ture of Aligarh, the destruction of Perron's 
regular troops, and the occupation or capture 
of Delhi and Agra, Lake had committed to 
him the task of imposing British protection 
on Shah Alam, the Moghul emperor or King 
of Delhi, and of establishing a resident polit- 
ical officer at his Court. For this purpose, 
and to enable him to make treaties of alliance 
with such princes of the Rajput and other 
races in the theatre of war as he might be 
able to detach from the Maratha cause, Lake 
was entrusted by Lord Wellesley with full 
political powers. 

We must now glance at the composition and 
organisation of the 10,000 troops with which 
Lake had undertaken his formidable and com- 
plex task, nearly half the strength of which was 
at first employed to hold Sindhia in check and 
to guard the British frontier from invasion. 

The composition of Lake's 10,000, who should 
be as familiar to the British schoolboy as the 
ten thousand of Xenophon, was as follows : — 

8 regiments of cavalry, fonning 3 brigades. 
13 battalions of infantry, forming 4 brigades. 

The only European infantry regiment was the 76 th, 


which was placed in the 1st Brigade, and took the right 
of the line in action. 

The artillery, commanded by lieut.-Colonel John Horsford, 
consisting of 32 guns and howitzers. Of these, 16 guna 
were allotted as galloper guns to the cavalry — i.e., 2 to 
each regiment. The remainder were divided among the 
infantry brigades as shown in the distribution statement. 

The cavalry brigades had each two staff officers — a major 
of brigade and a brigade quartermaster. Colonel St 
Leger, the senior Brigadier, commanded all the cavalry, 
but had no additional staff for this duty. 

In practice, General Lake himself took command of 
the cavalry as soon as it came into action, joining the 
infantry when the turn of that arm for active work 
came about. 

The infantry, with a staff on no larger scale than that of the 
cavalry, was divided into wings. The right wing, com- 
posed of the 1st and 3rd Brigades, was commanded by 
Major -General Kobert Ware, a veteran officer of the 
Company's service; and the left, composed of the 2nd 
and 4th Brigades, by Major-General the Hon. Frederick 
St John, an officer, young for his position, zealous, active, 
and capable of original thought. 

The distribution of the regiments of cavalry 
and infantry into brigades was as under : — 

Units. Commanders. 

1st Brigade. Colonel T. P. Fanddeur. 

H.M.'s 8th Light Dragoons. Lieut.-Colonel J. Vandeleur. 

let Bengal Cavalry. Lieut. -Colonel Gordon. 

3rd II II Major Middleton. 

2nd Brigade. Colonel St Leger. ^ 

H.M.'8 27th Light Dragoons. Lieut. -Colonel Need. 

2nd Bengal Cavalry. Lieut.-Colonel Brown. 

6th II II Major Mounsey. 

Zrd Brigade. Colond R. Maean. 

H.M.'8 29th Light Dragoons. Lieut. - Colonel the Hon. C. 

4th Bengal Cavalry. Lieut. -Colonel M'Gregor. 

' Colonel William St Leger was promoted Major-General September 25, 
1803, and left General Lake's army in consequence. He became a Lieu- 
tenant-General in 1809, and died in 1818. 



Isl Brigade. Colonel The Hon. W. Monaon. 

H.M.'b 76th Regiment. Major M'Leod. 

let Battalion 4th Native Infantry. Lieut.-Colonel Brown. 

2nd M II II Major Edwards. 

Four companies 17th n Captain Bagshawe, 
One S^-inch howitzer. 
Three 6-pounder8. 

2n(2 Brigade. CoUmd Clarke, 

2nd Battalion 8th Native Infantry. Major Bassett. 

2nd II 9th n Lieut. -Colonel Ashe, 

let II 12th II Lieut.-ColoneI Palmer. 

Six companies 16th n Lieut. -Colonel White. 

One 6J-inch howitzer. 
Two 18-pounders. 

Zrd Brigade. CcHond M'Donald. 

2nd ^ttalion 12th Native Infantry. Lieut.-Colonel Ochterlony. 

Ist II 15th II Major Forbes. 

2nd II II II Major Haldane. 

Two 12-pounder8. 
Six 6-pounderB. 
One SJ-inch howitzer. 

ith Brigade. Lievi.-Colonel PowcU. 

1st Battalion 2nd Native Infantry. Major Eeryan. 

2nd II II II Lieut.-Colonel Blair. 

Ist II 14th II Lieut.-Colonel M'CuUoch. 

Lake's force was a very small one for the task 
in hand, and notably weak in artillery, though in 
Lieut. -Colonel Horsford that arm had a highly 
able and experienced commander. The force, how- 
ever, had been highly trained for war by Lake 
himself, and some description of the circum- 
stances in which it had received this training 
may be interesting, and wiU also serve to 
explain the complete mutual confidence which 
existed between the General and his small 

From the moment of General Lake's arrival in 
India, it had been evident to Lord Wellesley that 


war with the Marathas might suddenly be forced 
upon him ; and the Governor-General had there- 
fore directed Lake to make his headquarters at 
Cawnpore, instead of Calcutta. This arrange- 
ment, in those days of slow postal communica- 
tion, had its drawbacks, but the result had 
been an exceptional war training of the Bengal 
army during the cold weather of 1802. Cawn- 
pore was then garrisoned by British troops 
in accordance with a treaty with the Nawab- 
Wazir of Oudh, and at no great distance lay 
a great tract of open country, round the vast 
ruins of the ancient city of Kanauj. In this 
terrain, General Lake supervised the training 
for war of all the available regiments of British 
and native cavalry in Bengal. The training 
had been carried out by Colonel St Leger, 
but the system was Lake's own invention, 
special attention being paid to a novel use of 
" galloper " or horse - artillery guns. Two of 
these guns were attached to each regiment, 
and " nothing," writes Captain Thorn, who was 
present as a staff officer of cavalry, " could 
exceed the celerity and exactness of the man- 
oeuvres made with them at fuU speed by this 
large body of cavaty, whose combined move- 
ments, conducted with the most perfect order, 


and in a spirit of emulation, gave certain promise 
of the glory which, in the space of a few 
months, afterwards crowned their labours." 

Such continuous training gave Lake an op- 
portunity, rare in those days, of testing the 
capabilities of his officers and men, who in 
turn learned to know what their General ex- 
pected of them, and imbibed much of his 
fearless and confident spirit. 

Nor did the association of Lake with his 
officers end on parade. Kanauj was then a 
happy hunting-ground, for, writes Thorn, " here 
amidst lofty grass, covering the ruins of splendid 
edifices and the tombs of princes, lay concealed 
a variety of game ; while beasts of prey, such 
as wolves, jackals, and tigers, secluded them- 
selves in retreats which formerly had resounded 
with the voice of gladness. On one of these 
hunting excursions a tiger of large size was 
shot with a pistol by General Lake, just as 
the ferocious animal was in the act of spring- 
ing upon Major Nairne, by whom it had been 
previously speared." 

This was indeed hunting in the fearless old 
fashion, and carried on, doubtless, in full uniform. 
Major Nairne, a well - known shikari of the 
period, was, it may be added, killed in action 


very shortly afterwards, during the operations 
carried on by General Lake against certain 
insurgent Zemindars in the ceded districts. 

The training at the camp of exercise at 
Kanauj in the cold weather of 1802-3 was 
perhaps the first on a large scale experienced 
by any portion of the Anglo-Indian army, and 
the Spartan soldiers of to-day may be amused 
by the enthusiastic Captain Thorn's account 
of the manner in which General Lake allowed 
his officers to temper hard and useful work 
with convivial and even domestic pleasures. 
Lake's four beautiful daughters accompanied 
him into camp, and aided him in dispensing 
the lavish hospitality in which he delighted. 
" Military occupations," says Thorn, " were 
diversified with the scenes of social harmony 
and festivity. . . . The heat of the day was 
moderate, but the nights were cold ; and many 
officers had not only glass doors to their tents, 
but chimneys of bricks, by which means they 
were enabled to enjoy the pleasures of an 
English fireside with their wives and families, 
who had been allowed to accompany them on 
this occasion. These domestic comforts were 
heightened by the luxuries of the table, where 
were the finest wines of every kind, from the 
exhilarating sheeraz of Persia to the ruby car- 


bonelle and humble port." Those were hardy 
days, and when we find the port of our grand- 
sires described as " humble," and taking the 
lowest place in the descending scale of the 
worthy chronicler's list of Kanauj beverages, we 
tremble to think how exhilarating must have 
been the " sheeraz of Persia." ^ 

WhUe thus gaining the affection of his officers, 
whom he entertained with lavish hospitality 
and with the dignified geniality for which he 
was famed in his day. General Lake succeeded 
in endearing himself no less to the rank and 
file of his cavalry. The hardy and daring 
Light Dragoons of the royal service saw at 
their head a leader after their own heart, for, 
although in his fifty-ninth year. Lake headed 
every charge in manoeuvre as he afterwards 
did in war ; and the cavalry soldier who does 
not respect and like a hard rider has yet to 
be found. 

In the dignified and courteous Guardsman, too, 
the self-respecting sowars of the Bengal cavalry, 
unerring judges of a man, found an ideal " Lord 
of War " ; and the respect now inspired in 

' Strong drinks are now generally avoided in India, but 
"sheeraz," or in modern form, shiraz, wine was evidently long 
in favour there. Tavernier mentions in his 'Travels in India' 
(1665) that he drank two bottles of it at Fatna with his com- 
patriot Bemier and some Dutchmen. 


them by the activity and skill of Lake, or 
"Lick sahib bahadur" as they called him, was 
soon turned into a warm affection and de- 
votion to the brave veteran, whom they were 
soon to see riding through their camps in lean 
days, munching as they did, in the saddle, a 
handful of parched grain, and declaring it a 
sufficient diet for the true soldier. 

WhUe the cavalry at Kanauj was thus pre- 
paring for war while enjoying the pleasures of 
peace, the infantry regiments cantoned at Cawn- 
pore, Fatehgarh, and other stations in Oudh, 
were being provided by Major-General St John 
with an organisation of light infantry com- 
panies similar to those introduced about the 
same time into the army in England. For 
this purpose ten men in each company were 
selected for special training as light infantry 
and marksmen. These men remained on the 
strength of their companies, of which there 
were ten in each battalion, but when required 
to perform their special functions they were 
called to the front, and formed an eleventh 
company. On the line of march they were 
thrown out by signal to guard the flanks of 
the column. 

General Lake approved of this arrangement 
as a temporary measure, but preferred the 


formation of a special native rifle-corps, which 
was subsequently raised. The objection to 
General St John's plan was, of course, the 
serious weakening of the companies (which were 
about 90 strong) by the removal of so large 
a proportion of their best men from their ranks 
at the moment of going into action. 

During the hot weather of 1803 the army 
lay in its cantonments at Cawnpore, Fatehgarh, 
and elsewhere, and it was not until August 7 
that, war being now inevitable, General Lake 
acted on his full political authority and marched 
from Cawnpore with the troops stationed there 
under Major-General St John. The cavalry from 
the same station marched on the following day, 
under Colonel St Leger. 

Thirteen days later the army, which had 
been joined on the road by the troops from 
Fatehgarh under Major -General Ware, arrived 
on the British frontier at a place about 112 
miles distant from its starting-point. The 
troops were now distributed into their brigades 
and continued their advance, encamping on 
August 28 within sight of the mosque — the most 
prominent building in the then flourishing town 
of KoU. The movements of the army had been 
hindered by the annual rains, which had been 
unusually light, and had now ceased ; and the 


weather, as is ever the case in what is termed 
" a break of the rains," was now extremely hot 
and oppressive, and the troops suffered much 
from thirst. In other respects they were in 
good case, for their camp equipment was on a 
liberal scale ; and to prevent fever Lake had 
taken the precaution of providing every European 
soldier with a bedstead, one of the strong and 
light cots used by the natives of India, and 
known as charpoys. 

The line of march of an army in India is 
still an interesting spectacle, but a hundred 
years ago it was indeed astonishing, resembling 
rather the migration of a population than that 
of a mere fighting force. The transport of the 
East has ever been cumbrous, and was at this 
period entirely irregular, while the number of 
camp-followers in Lake's army was estimated 
at ten persons to every fighting man. A force 
of 10,000 soldiers, approximately the number 
now operating in the Doab, would therefore have 
had 100,000 followers ; and their motley nature, 
and the various descriptions of vehicles and 
animals required for the carriage of their habita- 
tions and supplies, merit the transcription of 
Captain Thorn's vivid picture of the march of 
an Indian army of the olden time. 

First stating that several hundred elephants 


and some thousands of camels were required to 
carry the camp equipage and their own pro- 
vender, Thorn writes : " Every horse, whether 
of the cavalry or not, has two attendants, one 
who cleans and takes care of the animal, and 
another, denominated the grasscutter, who gathers 
forage, consisting of the roots of grass, which he 
digs up with an iron instrument resembling a 
mason's trowel. These roots, being carefully 
washed, constitute an excellent food ; and in 
fact no other could well be obtained in a climate 
which, when the hot wind prevails, is so com- 
pletely bare of vegetation that not a single 
blade can be discerned above ground ; notwith- 
standing which dreariness, we have by the means 
here described been able to preserve all our 
cattle when encamped on plains exhibiting noth- 
ing but an interminable waste of sterility. 

"Besides an immense number of draught 
bullocks for the use of the artillery park and 
heavy ordnance carts, to every three of which 
there is at least one driver, large droves of 
Brinjarree bullocks, from eighty to one hundred 
thousand, are employed in carrying grain. These 
Brinjarries, or more correctly Bandjarrahs, are a 
peculiar class of Hindoos, who mix very little 
with the other tribes. They are a hardy race 
of people, who live by collecting grain in districts 


where it is easily procured, and selling it in 
places where the harvests have been less abund- 
ant. Thus they are constantly occupied in 
travelling to great distances, accompanied by 
their wives and families ; and as they go in 
large bodies, armed with matchlocks, spears, 
scimitars, and shields, they can easily stand 
their ground even against a considerable force. 
In time of war the Bandjarrahs are of the 
utmost utility to the party that secures their 
services, for knowing well where grain is to be 
obtained, when their stock begins to be exhausted 
they set out to procure fresh supplies either by 
purchase or plunder.^ 

" To these purveyors of the army, as they 
may be properly called, who, with their con- 
nexions, surpass calculation, must be added in 
the public department the palankeen and dhoolie 
bearers, a class of persons at all times necessary 
in this country, and indispensably so when the 
fatigues and casualties of war require their 
assistance for the conveyance of the sick and 

' The Brinjaris (to use the modern spelling) still exist, and 
carry on their business of transporting grain from place to place, 
though the spread of railways has lessened their sphere of util- 
ity. At the period of which Captain Thorn writes, they were 
so numerous and so widely established in India that they were 
able to carry the supplies of the British armies in all the distant 
portions of the theatre of war, though many hundreds of miles 


wounded. An army is further numerically in- 
creased by the servants which every officer is 
under the necessity of employing to take charge 
of his live and dead stock ; for though the 
private European soldier receives, besides his 
regular allowance of arrack, rations of meat 
from the Government contractors, who drive 
large flocks of sheep for that purpose, the 
officers must provide their own poultry, sheep, 
and particularly goats to supply them with 
milk for their tea, — a beverage in this country 
of the most refreshing nature, especially after 
a long march. The attendants, therefore, which 
these services render expedient, may be estimated 
at ten to a subaltern, twenty to a captain, 
thirty to a field officer, and so on in proportion. 
But even the privates themselves are not with- 
out their dependants who contribute to enlarge 
the population of a camp, there being a cook 
or bhabajee to every mess, a water-carrier or 
mesalljee to each tent, in which lie generally 
ten or twelve soldiers ; also a washerman, termed 
a dhohy, to every troop or company. 

"Such are the immediate adjuncts of a 
marching force in the East ; but even this is 
not all, for besides the women who follow the 
fortunes of the officers and private soldiers, 
there is a mixed multitude of different de- 


nominations termed ' the bazaar people,' con- 
sisting of merchants and pedlars, with a variety 
of adventurers of all pursuits, some exercising 
particular callings and making themselves useful, 
while others accompany the army merely with 
a view to plunder." 

Captain Thorn follows up this spirited sketch 
of the impedimenta of an Indian army by an 
equally vivid description of the normal forma- 
tion of Lake's army when on the march and in 
camp, and of its manner of life when halted, 
all so unlike the fashion of modern warfare 
that the reader will perhaps pardon yet another 

"The march of our army," he continues, "had 
the appearance of a moving town or citadel, in 
the form of an oblong square, whose sides 
were defended by ramparts of glittering swords 
and bayonets. On one side moved the line of 
infantry, on the opposite that of the cavalry, 
parallel to and preserving its encamping distance 
as near as possible from the infantry, and keep- 
ing the heads of the columns abreast of one 
another. The front face was protected by the 
advanced -guard, consisting of all the picquets 
coming on duty, and the rear by all the 
picquets returning from duty, and then forming 
the rear -guard. The parks and columns of 


artillery moved on in the inside of the square, 
always keeping the high-road, and next to the 
infantry, which moved at a short distance from 
it. The remainder of the space within the 
square was occupied by the baggage, cattle, 
and followers of the camp. Notwithstanding 
the immense magnitude of this moving mass, 
and the multifarious elements of which it con- 
sisted, nothing could exceed the regularity 
observed by the troops in maintaining their 
respective distances and adhering closely to 
the order of formation on the march. The 
Commander - in - Chief, aware how active the 
numerous cavalry of the enemy would be in 
hovering continually round, ready to dart in 
and take advantage of any opening or improper 
lengthening out of the line of march, judged 
it prudent to give the officers a little advice, 
the excellence of which may recommend it for 
general adoption no less than for military opera- 
tions in India. The officers were enjoined to 
impress upon their men the necessity of acting 
in perfect concert, without which the advantages 
of discipline would be lost : they were therefore 
cautioned, as they regarded their own personal 
safety and that of the service, not to be led 
away by a mistaken and reprehensible ardour 
to break their ranks and so to put themselves 



on an equality with an irregular and undisci- 
plined enemy. 

"The army encamped for the most part as 
it marched, — the infantry and cavalry in two 
lines, facing outwards, thus affording a strong 
protection to everything contained in the en- 
closure. The power of the imagination can 
scarcely figure to itself the sudden transforma- 
tion that takes place on these occasions, when 
an Indian camp exhibits, with the effect of an 
enchantment, the appearance of a lively and 
populous city amidst the wilds of solitude and 
on a dreary plain. In a short space the rough 
visage of war is changed to the reciprocal offices 
of confidence, and the fatigues of professional 
duty are forgotten amidst scenes of festivity. 
Throughout long and regular streets of shops, 
like the booths at an English fair, may be seen 
in every direction all the bustling variety of 
trade, the relaxation of enjoyment, and the 
pursuits of pleasure. Here sheroffs, or money- 
changers, are ready with their coin to accom- 
modate those who are unprovided with the 
currency necessary for the purchase of the 
necessities or luxuries of life. In such a 
situation, where nothing more could well be 
expected than what serves to alleviate the 
present cravings of nature, every kind of 


luxury abounds ; and while some shops allure 
the hungry passenger with boiled or parched 
rice, others exhibit a profusion of rich viands 
with spices, curry materials and confectionery, 
for the indulgence of a voluptuous appetite. 
European merchants, here called sadawkers, 
either by themselves or their native agents, 
are busily employed in vending wines, liquors, 
and groceries ; whUe other traders exhibit for 
sale fine cloths, muslins, and rich cashmerian 
shawls. Here also are to be found goldsmiths 
and jewellers exercising their occupations and 
endeavouring to attract the fancy by a display 
of elegant ornaments, as though war had been 
deprived of its austerity, or that victory had 
already been decided. Besides these and various 
other traffickers, the camp exhibits the singu- 
lar spectacle of female quacks, who practise 
cupping, sell drugs, and profess to cure dis- 
orders by charms. Nearly allied to these are 
the jugglers showing their dexterity by numerous 
arts of deception ; and, to complete the motley 
assemblage, groups of dancing girls have their 
allotted station in the bazaar." 

Captain Thorn enlarges at considerable length 
on the personal appearance, costume, accomplish- 
ments, and moral characteristics of these ladies, 
but the reader will perhaps have had enough 


of his description of the camp of the Grand 
Army. We shall see presently how the warriors 
who made themselves so comfortable on the 
march comported themselves in action, doubt- 
ing not that a few months' campaigning enabled 
them to shake off some at least of their motley 
and cumbrous following. 

On August 29 the army marched at four in 
the morning, and at once crossed into Maratha 
territory, leaving the baggage and bazaar at 
a village some four miles distant from Koil, 
information having been received that a hostile 
force was encamped between that town and the 
fort of Aligarh. The troops advanced to the 
attack at seven o'clock, and, on their presently 
coming into view, the enemy struck his camp 
and drew up his mounted troops in a strong 
position on a plain, the right resting on the 
fort of Aligarh, the left protected by some 
villages, and the front by a deep morass. The 
Maratha horse numbered about 9000, of whom 
from 4000 to 5000 were regulars ; and some 
2000 infantry were posted in villages in the 
vicinity of the fort. General Lake obviously 
had no choice but to attack the Maratha left, 
and this he did without hesitation, making the 
necessary flank movement with a confidence 
and steadiness which had an immediate effect. 


The guns of the fortress kept up a heavy- 
fire on the British force during the flank 
march, but -with little effect. On reaching the 
point where deployment was possible, the cavalry, 
led by the General in person, formed into two 
lines and advanced rapidly to the attack, 
supported by three or four lines of infantry. 
The Maratha horse were so intimidated by 
this regular and determined advance, and so 
hampered by the swampy ground in their 
front (which, although it protected them from 
a direct attack, also prevented them from 
making a counter - attack during the progress 
of Lake's flank movement), that they tamely 
fell back under the walls of the fortress. The 
British cavalry closely followed them up, the 
great crowd of horsemen of the two armies 
causing a dense cloud of dust to arise, which 
prevented the fire of the fort guns, even at 
this close range, from being effective. So de- 
moralised were the Maratha horse by this 
rapid attack that Perron was unable to rally 
them, and they presently broke into a flight 
that quickly carried them beyond the reach of 
the British cavalry. Perron's body - guard, a 
fine body of horsemen, alone maintained its 
formation, and escorted the General from the 
field in the direction of Agra. 


General Lake now established his army hard 
by the town of Koil, encamping the troops on 
the north side of the town, which thus guarded 
the right flank of the camp : the left flank, 
being en Vair, was thrown back. Lake himself 
took up his residence in General Perron's fine 
house, the Sahib Bagh, which was midway 
between Koil and the fortress of Aligarh, and 
consequently about a mile from the front of 
his camp. When abandoning Aligarh and its 
garrison to their fate, which, indeed, he could 
not help doing. Perron urged his son-in-law, 
Colonel Pedron, the commandant of the fortress, 
to make a determined defence, promising to 
return presently at the head of the entire 
Maratha army and to drive away the English. 
Perron's letter was written in the somewhat 
theatrical style dear to Frenchmen, and so 
derided by the matter-of-fact Englishmen of a 
hundred years ago. " Remember," wrote Perron, 
"that you are a Frenchman, and let no action 
of yours tarnish the character of your nation. 
I hope in a few days to send back the English 
general as fast, or faster than he came. Make 
yourself perfectly easy on this subject. Either 
the Emperor's army or that of General Lake 
shall find a grave before the fort of AUyghur. 
Do your duty and defend the fort while one 


stone remains upon another. Once more, re- 
member your nation. The eyes of millions are 
fixed upon you." 

Perron, however, on arriving at Agra found 
himself unable to fulfil his promise. He had 
for some time been on bad terms with his 
Maratha master ; and Sindhia had, not long 
previously, actually insulted him in durbar. 
Several of the more prominent Maratha officers 
were desirous of taking Perron's place at the 
head of the army ; and, more dangerous still, 
he had a treacherous rival in one of his own 
race, Louis Bourquin, the commander of the 
1st Brigade of Sindhia's regular army. 

Bourquin, whose record as a soldier was 
much inferior to that of Perron, made such 
eflPective use of his General's absence from Agra, 
and of his defeat outside Aligarh, that he now 
succeeded in procuring Perron's dismissal and 
his own promotion to a short-lived command. 

General Lake, having disposed of Perron 
and his cavalry, had now to decide on his 
course of action with regard to Aligarh, and, 
having determined that he would not leave 
so strong a post in his rear, he decided to 
attack it promptly, and if possible to carry 
it by a coup - de - main. From his lack of 
siege material he could, in fact, take no other 


course. Knowing, however, that in all proba- 
bility such action would result in a heavy loss 
of life, and particularly of Europeans, in whom 
his army was so dangerously weak, Lake 
endeavoured to persuade Colonel Pedron to 
surrender. He entered into a correspondence 
of five days' duration, and found Pedron much 
inclined to come to terms. The second-in-com- 
mand of the fortress, a Rajput officer named 
Baji E,ao, was, however, made of sterner stuff, 
and finally put an abrupt end to the peace 
negotiations by placing Colonel Pedron in 
arrest, assuming the command, and defying 
Lake to do his worst. 

Baji Rao was right, for he now had in his 
charge nearly all the reserve stores of the 
Maratha army, including some 300 guns of 
various calibres, great quantities of powder and 
shot, and large supplies of uniform of French 
pattern, and other necessaries. So essential an 
arsenal should not, he felt, be tamely surrend- 
ered. The fortress of Aligarh, too, was im- 
mensely strong. It had been selected by Perron 
as his headquarters on account of its natural 
advantages of position, and for years the most 
skilled French engineers had laboured to make 
it impregnable. The plain in the midst of 
which it stands, being intersected by swamps. 


becomes so inundated during the rainy season 
as to render the fort unapproachable by ordin- 
ary siege operations. As for a coup -de -main, 
the walls were of great height and strength, 
not to be quickly breached by the weak artil- 
lery of Lake's army ; the ditch had a breadth 
varying from 100 to 200 feet and a depth of 
32 feet ; even in the dry season it had a 
minimum depth of 10 feet of water ; the only 
entrance into the fort was so guarded by 
batteries as to be most difficult to force, and 
would indeed have been inaccessible had the 
commandant cut away a narrow bank which 
traversed the moat and carried a roadway 
into the fort. This precaution was not taken, 
doubtless from over - confidence and from a 
reliance on the promise of relief from Agra. 
Finally, the garrison was numerous and brave, 
consisting of 3000 infantry, 200 artillerymen, 
and a regiment of cavalry. 500 of the in- 
fantry were recruits, but fought as bravely as 
the rest. 

The five days occupied in negotiation had 
not been unwelcome to the British force. On 
the evening of August 29 Lake had found 
his troops much exhausted : they had been 
under arms and in movement for many hours 
in great heat, and, even in the tents, after 


Perron's retreat, the thermometer had marked 
over 100 degrees. By September 3, however, 
they were much refreshed, and Lake having 
determined on an assault on the following 
morning, proceeded to select the storming- 
party and its commander. 

His choice fell upon Colonel the Hon. 
WUliam Monson, 76th Regiment, Brigadier of 
the 1st Brigade, a soldier of approved gal- 
lantry, who was naturally permitted to form 
the assaulting column from his own regiments. 
His column was thus composed : four companies 
76th Regiment, under Major M'Leod, the officer 
commanding the regiment; the 1st Battalion 
4th Native Infantry ; and four companies 17th 
Native Infantry. The remainder of the 1st 
Brigade was held in readiness to reinforce, 
and in the course of the attack the 2nd 
Battalion 4th Native Infantry was, in fact, 
brought up. 

During the night of September 3 two bat- 
teries, each of four 18 -pounders, were constructed 
by Captains Robertson and Greene, under the 
supervision of Lieut. - Colonel Horsford, — one 
under cover of a village, and the other con- 
cealed by the trees of the Sahib Bagh, General 
Perron's house, now occupied by Lake. The 
fire of these batteries was intended to keep 


down the fire from the walls of Aligarh during 
the assault. The stormers, headed by Colonel 
Monson, and guided by Mr Lucan, an English 
officer who had recently left the Maratha 
service in accordance with Lord Wellesley's 
proclamation, left camp at three o'clock in the 
morning of September 4, and, after a cautious 
advance, arrived unseen and unheard at a 
point within 400 yards of the only gateway 
of the fortress. Here they halted to wait for 
dawn. During the halt an officer crept forward 
to make a close reconnaissance, and found a 
Maratha picquet, sixty to seventy strong, 
smoking and talking round a fire in front of 
the gateway. A party of the 76th was now 
sent forward with the design of driving this 
picquet through the gateway and entering 
with them. The men of the 76th attacked, 
however, with such impetuosity and sudden- 
ness that the whole picquet was slain, not a 
man escaping to teU the tale. The noise of 
the struggle or scuffle was heard by the 
sentries on the ramparts, who opened a brisk 
but unaimed fire for a time ; but no notice 
being taken of their fire, it presently ceased, 
as they imagined that the sounds they had 
heard had been caused by the repulse of some 
rash patrol from the British lines. 


On the firing of the morning gun at Lake's 
camp the covering batteries, by arrangement, 
opened a heavy fire on the dimly seen walls 
of Aligarh, and Monson and his stormers 
advanced rapidly towards the gateway. When 
within 100 yards of the entrance they came 
upon a small and newly constructed work, 
mounting three 6 -pounders. So rapid was 
the rush of stormers that the Maratha gunners 
were unable to fire a round in defence of the 
breast-work, but fled with the remainder of the 
garrison into the fort. The companies of the 76th 
hotly pursued them, again hoping to steal an 
entrance into the fortress ; but those guarding 
the gate were by now on the alert, and the 76th 
found the gate closed, and immediately came 
under a destructive fire from several directions. 

Two scaling-ladders were instantly brought 
up and placed in position, and the grenadier 
company of the 76th, headed by Major M'Leod, 
the commanding officer of the regiment, en- 
deavoured to mount the walls. They were, 
however, repulsed by pikemen, so this attempt 
also failed. The storming - party, nothing 
daunted, maintained their ground with grim 
determination, while as a last resort guns 
were brought up to blow in the gate. A 
6 -pounder was first used without effect, and 


afterwards, after some delay and great exertion, 
a 12-pounder was run up, which on the fifth 
or sixth discharge burst the gate open. 

These operations occupied fully twenty min- 
utes, during which time the stormers, crowded 
into a small space and exposed to a close fire 
to which they could make no efiective reply, 
lost heavily. Nor were their losses confined 
to those inflicted on them by the heavy guns, 
wall -pieces, and muskets from several parapets 
and walls which commanded their position, 
for numbers of the brave defenders of the 
fortress swarmed down the scaling-ladders 
and attacked them, sword or spear in hand, 
— an incident rarely paralleled in war.^ 

1 During the gallant defence of Vellore in 1781 against the 
army of Tippu of Mysore and his Trench allies, a prolonged 
attack was made on an outlying fort garrisoned by one hundred 
Madras Sepoys under two English subalterns. This small body 
of men held their own, during a persistent siege of five weeks' 
duration, "the enemy's artillery being well served, his infantry 
and investing force overwhelming ; but the steady determined 
defence made by Lieutenants Champness and Parr, with a 
garrison entirely native, foiled and repulsed every assault. On 
one occasion the ladders were planted and ascended by the 
enemy, who were driven off with much slaughter, and the 
garrison following the gallant Lieutenant Parr, descended by 
them and became the assailants on the retreating foe, who, after 
a close and determined encounter with the bayonet, were dis- 
lodged from their position near the breach."^ 

1 Historical record of the First Madras European Regiment. 


In those fatal twenty minutes all the officers 
of the companies of the 76th were killed or 
wounded, and the casualties of the small column 
were so heavy that the 2nd Battalion 4th Native 
Infantry was brought up to reinforce it. Among 
those of the storming - party severely wounded 
was its commander, Colonel Monson, the bone 
of whose arm was broken by the thrust of a 

The outer gate having at last been burst 
open, the stormers advanced at a run under a 
very heavy and close, but confused, fire to a 
second gate, which was easily broken down. A 
third gate, reached in like manner, was rushed, 
while the crowd of retreating Marathas pre- 
vented its being shut. The fourth and last 
gate, distant 500 yards from the outer one, was, 
however, closed, and though Captain Shipton of 
the artillery, who had been wounded during 
the advance, gallantly brought up his twelve- 
pounder, the gate defied his efibrts. 

Major M'Leod, however, a cool and determined 
soldier, forced the wicket, and the stormers made 
their way to the ramparts, where ensued a 
slaughter grim and great. The garrison of Ali- 
garh maintained their brave defence for nearly 
an hour, and their loss in killed was stated to 
be no less than 2000 men, the surface of the 


ditch being thickly covered with the floating 
bodies of those who were shot or drowned while 
endeavouring to swim across it. Those who 
succeeded in crossing were, for the most part, 
cut down by the 27th Light Dragoons, for they 
refused to surrender. Quarter was given to 
those of the garrison who accepted it, and they 
were set at liberty by order of General Lake. 

Colonel Pedron, the deposed governor, was 
brought a prisoner before Lake. He was found 
to be "an elderly man, clad in a green jacket, 
with gold lace and epaulets." 

Baji Rao, the brave Maratha chief, was among 
the slain. 

The British casualties, so heavy during the 
check at the outer gate, were surprisingly light 
during the triumphant rush through the re- 
maining defences. The kUled numbered 55, of 
whom 6 were officers ; and the wounded 205, of 
whom 11 were officers, — a total of 260 casualties. 
The proportion of casualties to strength in the 
76 th Eegiment was very high as compared with 
the native portion of the storming -party, yet 
the latter behaved extremely well. 

Thus fell the fortress of Aligarh, believed by 
every native of India to be impregnable, as 
indeed it would have been had the care and 
vigilance of the defenders equalled their courage. 


It may well be imagined with what anxiety 
Lake, who watched the assault from the battery 
in the Sahib Bagh, witnessed the check at the 
outer gateway. There stood by him, during 
those anxious twenty minutes, which seemed 
as long as so many hours, a cool and sympa- 
thetic observer in the person of James Skinner, 
perhaps the best soldier of mixed blood who 
ever served England. Skinner tells us that 
when the stormers were checked and came 
under the terrible fire from the bastions and 
walls ("one of the heaviest fires of musketry 
and great guns I have seen," writes Skinner, 
who had seen many). General Lake feared that 
the assault had failed. When the gateway was 
forced, the 76th rushed through it with a great 
shout. As soon as he heard the shout the 
countenance of Lake changed from anxiety to 
joy, and he called out with the greatest delight, 
" The fort is ours ! " and turning to Skinner 
(who had joined the British army from the 
Maratha service a few days before) asked him 
what he thought of European fighting. Skinner 
replied " that no forts in Hindustan could stand 
against it," — an answer which may have had 
unhappy results. "Then," adds Skinner, "spur- 
ring his horse, he galloped to the gate. But 
when he saw his heroes lying thick there, tho 

"the fate of good soldiers." 177 

tears came to his eyes. * It is the fate of good 
soldiers,' he said." 

Skinner concludes his narrative with the 
testimony, highly honourable coming from so 
experienced a soldier, that the courage displayed 
by the 76th surpassed all he had ever seen, and 
every idea he had formed of soldiering. 

In the evening the bodies of the European 
slain were interred with great solemnity, those 
of the native soldiers being, of course, disposed 
of by their co-religionists as was meet for them. 
The five officers of the 76th were buried in front 
of the colour-guard of their regiment, General 
Lake and his staff, and all officers off duty, 
attending the procession, during which the band 
played the " Dead March," and minute guns 
were fired from the batteries. These seemly 
marks of respect for the brave and faithful dead 
can no longer be paid in war, and this record 
of old customs may therefore be of interest. 

Lake reported his success to the Governor- 
General in a formal despatch, and entered into 
further particulars in the following hasty but 
interesting letter written on the day of the 

assault : — 

Camp at Coel, 
September 4, 1803. 

My Lord, — By my official letter which accompanies 
this, you will, I am sorry to say, perceive that I have 



lost a great many valuable officers, and that unfortun- 
ately Colonel Monson, who behaved most gloriously, 
has received a most severe wound in the arm from a 
pike. The bone, I understand, is broken high up; but 
Mr Lenny and the other surgeons who have examined 
it have hopes that he may recover without amputa- 
tion. I cannot say too much of the conduct of Colonel 
Monson upon this occasion; he is a most serious loss 
to the army. Your lordship may easily conceive what 
I feel at his misfortune and the loss of so many brave 

As I told your lordship in my letter of the Ist 
instant, I had tried every method to prevail upon 
these people to give up the fort, and offered a very 
large sum of money ; but they were determined to hold 
out, which they did most obstinately, and I may say 
most gallantly. In short, my lord, from the extra- 
ordinary strength of the place, and being obliged to 
win it inch by inch, it being so determinedly defended, 
in my opinion British valour never shone more con- 
spicuous. I think this action will strike terror into 
the natives, and prevent us some trouble. I trust 
your lordship will agree with me in thinking that I 
have done right in gaining this fort at any rate, as, 
in the first place, it was so strong that I could not 
look upon my army safe with such a fort in my rear; 
in the second place, it would have given the natives a 
very poor opinion of our troops ; and in the third place, 
I am convinced that after a regular siege we must have 
had the same difficulties to encounter. The strength of 
the place cannot be described but by a drawing, which 
shall be sent down to you as soon as it can be pre- 
pared; a seventy-four might sail in the ditch. The 
engineer and Colonel Horsford both think that after 
a breach had been made we should have lost as many 
men as we now have, besides what would have fallen 
during a siege, which would have lasted nearly a month. 


All these points being considered, the delay that would 
have been caused in the execution of your orders, and 
the certainty of giving spirit to the Maratha chiefs, 
who would then have been inclined to flock to the 
Frenchman's standard, I feel happy at having gained the 
fort, which stood out for more than an hour. A more 
anxious time I never experienced ; the fire was tremen- 
dous, and nothing, from the strong way in which the 
natives were posted with all their advantages, but 
British soldiers would have effected the business. I 
have wrote more than I intended, and I must beg you 
will pardon me for being so prolix, but really my mind 
is so much agitated from the loss of so many excellent 
men that I hardly know what I do. 

It appears, I am sorry to say, that poor Monson's 
wound may be attended with danger, as in the event 
of amputation, danger is always to be apprehended in 
this country; but I trust and hope I shall be able to 
send you a better account of him to-morrow. 

P.S. — I have only to add that, without the fort of 
Alyghur, we could not have had the entire possession 
of the Doab; indeed, till it was ours, we were liable 
to be driven out of it at any time. 

The news of the capture of Aligarh was re- 
ceived with great pleasure by Lord Wellesley, 
who eulogised in his General Order of September 
15, 1803, the "alacrity and valour" with which 
Lake decided on the assault.^ The Governor- 

* The most valuable compliment conferred on Lake's achieve- 
ment, from the military eminence of its author, was that of 
General Arthur Wellesley. "I think," he wrote on October 14, 
1803, "that General Lake's capture of AUyghur is one of the 


General also praised in befitting terms those 
officers whom Lake had mentioned as having 
distinguished themselves, beginning, of course, 
with Colonel Monson. It may be here recorded 
that Lake by no means followed the routine 
of the period in his "mentions in despatches," 
for instead of merely recommending for reward 
the staff and commanding officers, then the 
almost invariable custom, he, on this and other 
occasions, was guided strictly by merit. Three 
captains of artillery received special mention — 
two for service with the covering batteries, and 
Captain Shipton, who blew in the gates ; but 
the most marked praise of all was awarded to 
Lucan, the gallant Irishman who, at the im- 
minent risk of his life, led the assaulting column. 
Terrible indeed would have been Lucan's fate 
if captured, as it was unfortunately his destiny 
to prove later in the campaign. 

The risks taken by Lucan were fully rec- 
ognised and promptly rewarded by Lord 
Wellesley, who conferred on him a money 
reward of Rs. 24,000 and a lieutenant's com- 
mission in the 74th Regiment. 

most extraordinary feats that I have heard of iu this country. 
I never attacked a fort that I did not attempt the same thing 
— viz., to blow open the gates — but I have never succeeded. I 
have always taken them by escalade, which appears to have been 
impossible in this instance." 


A little space must now be given to the 
movements of General Perron's troops after 
their hurried retreat from outside Aligarh. Of 
the 9000 or more mounted men present on 
that occasion, nearly half either dispersed or 
broke away in small parties and returned to 
their own districts. On reaching Hatras, 
Perron intrusted the command of 5000 good 
men, who still maintained their discipline, to 
Captain Fleury, one of his best French oflBcers, 
and ordered him to harry the country towards 
Cawnpore and to hamper General Lake's move- 
ments. Perron himself, with his body-guard, 
continued his retirement to Agra, to which 
place he had sent his family and private prop- 
erty : what befell him there will presently be 

Captain Fleury at first carried out his orders 
with some success, for moving against Shiko- 
habad, a small outpost on the Company's frontier 
in the Etawah district, he attacked it on 
September 2. Shikohabad was held by a 
weak garrison of five companies of the 11th 
Native Infantry, with one gun, under Lieut.- 
Colonel Coningham, and the position has no 
natural strength. 

Fleury made repeated attacks from four in 
the morning till two in the afternoon, but 

182 THE MA HATHA WAK OF 1803. 

without success. He then withdrew and called 
up reinforcements, with which he again attacked 
two days later. Colonel Coningham's force had 
held out stoutly, but he and nearly all his 
officers had been wounded, his small force had 
sustained over sixty casualties, ammunition was 
running short, and no relief appeared probable. 
In these circumstances Coningham thought a 
capitulation justified. The small British force 
was permitted by Fleury to retire from Shiko- 
habad with its gun and other arms on engaging 
to take no further part in the war against 
Sindhia. Captain Thorn adds to the above facts 
a statement that the wife of an English 
officer was carried off. There appears to be 
no record of her fate. 

On hearing of the attack on Shikohabad, 
General Lake at once despatched the 3rd 
Cavalry Brigade, under Colonel Macan, to 
deal with Fleury's force. Macan, a bold and 
enterprising Irishman, marched rapidly in search 
of the Maratha horse ; but Fleury, who had 
sustained heavy losses in the two days' fight- 
ing at Shikohabad, showed no desire for fiirther 
fighting in spite of his greatly superior strength. 

Falling back on Agra, Fleury's force eventually 
made a precipitate retreat across the Jumna, 


accompanied in their flight by the garrison of 
Ferozabad, a fortified village only twenty-four 
miles distant from Agra. Macan, following in 
hot pursuit, took possession of Ferozabad, captur- 
ing there nine guns, a large quantity of grain, 
and some cattle. 

Macan's brigade, with complete confidence, 
carried on its independent operations round 
Agra for twelve days, until on September 17 
it was joined by the 8th Light Dragoons and 
three battalions of the 2nd Infantry Brigade 
under Colonel Clarke. The command of the 
combined force was then assumed by Colonel 
Thomas Pakenham Vandeleur, the senior Lieu- 
tenant - Colonel of the 8th Light Dragoons. 
The 8th were now making their first appearance 
in the campaign, having only recently arrived 
in India. They had been mounted during the 
month of July on horses provided by the Nawab- 
Wazir of Oudh. 

Colonel Vandeleur, finding that no further 
enterprise was to be feared from Fleury, now 
proceeded along the eastern bank of the Jumna 
to a point opposite Muttra, in order to cross 
the river there and rejoin the main army, whose 
movements must now be described. 

A halt of two days at Aligarh, after its cap- 


ture, sufficed General Lake to restore the broken 
defences and establish a garrison of one battalion 
of Native Infantry. 

On September 7 he marched away to Sumna, 
in the direction of Delhi. Here Lake received 
a letter from General Perron, stating that he 
had quitted the service of Sindhia, and asking 
permission to take refuge under British protection 
at Lucknow. This important step, for which 
General Perron has been unjustly stigmatised 
as a traitor by some writers, was thus brought 
about. Perron, like his great predecessor De 
Boigne, was well known by the Maratha 
leaders to be opposed to war with the British ; 
and this knowledge, as soon as war became 
inevitable, rendered his position impossible. 
He was no longer trusted by Sindhia, and 
the fact was well known to the officers, and 
indeed to the whole army, which he had 
formerly held completely under his control. 
Perron's removal from his command was ob- 
viously imminent, and on the outbreak of war, 
the only question was at what moment and 
in what manner the removal would come 
about. Among those who most loudly and 
constantly asked this question was the man 
who desired to supplant him, Louis Bourquin, 


a fellow-countryman and dependant of Perron's, 
but a man of much lower type, who was now 
brigadier of the 1st Brigade of the Maratha 
army. No sooner had the news of Perron's 
defeat before Aligarh reached Delhi than 
Bourquin declared Perron a traitor, and in- 
duced, first, his own brigade, and subsequently 
the whole army at Delhi, to proclaim him 
as their commander. This disloyal conduct 
was opposed by Geslin, also a Frenchman, 
the commander of the 2nd Brigade ; and by 
Drugeon, also French, the commandant of the 
citadel of Delhi. 

A full narrative of the intrigues resulting in 
Perron's deposition may be read in Compton's 
'European Military Adventurers of Hindustan,' 
but it must here be sufficient to say that 
treachery was triumphant, that the loyal 
European officers who stood by General 
Perron were placed in confinement, and that 
by September 9 Bourquin found himself in 
command of an imposing force of 18 battalions 
of infantry, a large body of cavalry, including 
Fleury's late corps of Hindustani Muham- 
madans, and 110 guns. Fleury himself was 
now on his way with General Perron to Luck- 
now, accompanied by five other officers who 


had declined further service after the depos- 
ition of Perron, but had not taken an active 
part in the dispute for command. 

With this strong body of experienced and 
brave soldiers Bourquin might be expected to 
prove a formidable foe ; but it must be recog- 
nised that the confidence of the Maratha troops 
was inevitably shaken by the patent intrigues 
and dissensions among their foreign officers, 
and also that in the day of battle they would 
assuredly go into action under Bourquin with- 
out the feeling of confidence with which the 
proved skill of Perron would have inspired 

Lake's army, on the other hand, excited and 
encouraged by the rapid triumphs of Aligarh, 
and believing implicitly in the capacity of 
their commander to surmount all difficulties 
and to defy all odds, moved forward to meet 
their enemy with a light heart. 

On September 8 Lake again advanced to 
the town of Kurja, the distance covered in this 
and the preceding march being thirty miles. 
So great was the alarm produced among the 
Marathas by the fall of Aligarh, that the fort 
of Kurja, which contained a great store of 
grain, was abandoned before the arrival of the 
British army. On September 9 Sikandra was 


reached, and on the following day the army 
made a short march to the westward. 

On September 11, destined to be the last 
day of many brave soldiers' lives, the force 
marched as usual at 3 A.M., and by 11 o'clock 
had covered eighteen miles and had crossed 
the river Hindan. Lake heard in the course 
of the march that Bourquin had left Delhi and 
crossed the Jumna during the night, and it was 
certain that he could not be far oflP, although 
the cavalry had failed to observe his line of 
approach. The march had been an easy one, 
for the morning temperature was now moder- 
ate ; but the troops were fatigued from the 
great accuracy of movement rendered necessary 
by the square formation, already described, 
in which the army moved. Lake apparently 
believed that Bourquin was holding back, and, 
seeing that his own troops were weary and 
had made a sufficiently long march, he now 
ordered them to pitch camp and cook their 
dinners. The ground selected was an open 
space about a mile beyond the Hindan, and 
only some six miles distant from Delhi, though 
the broad Jumna still intervened. 

Bourquin, whatever his defects as a soldier, 
at least showed no unreadiness to fight. He 
was aware that Lake's army was weakened 


both by his casualties at Aligarh and the 
garrison that he had left there, and also by 
his having detached half his weak force of 
cavalry in pursuit of Fleury's raiders, and he 
now came confidently forward to attack the 
British army wherever he might find them. 

As has been explained, he did find them 
comfortably settling down into camp, and there- 
fore at a considerable disadvantage. 

The early stages of the action, called by 
historians the battle of Delhi, have not been 
very clearly described, but apparently neither 
army was at first aware of its enemy's position. 
Lake certainly did not know that Bourquin 
was coming straight towards him, nor would 
Bourquin have lost the opportunity which the 
disadvantageous circumstances of the British 
force ofiered him had he known exactly where 
they were and what they were doing. 

Just after Lake's camp had been pitched, a 
few Maratha mounted skirmishers opened fire 
on the British outposts. No great notice of 
their attack was at first taken, but, the enemy 
being rapidly reinforced, the British "grand- 
guard" or reserve of the outposts turned out. 
General Lake immediately afterwards rode to 
the front with three regiments of cavalry — all 
the mounted troops that he had with his army 

bouequin's position. 189 

that day — in order to make a personal recon- 

Driving back the Maratha horse who had 
given him timely warning of Bourquin's proxim- 
ity, Lake followed them up for two miles, when 
he found Bourquin's army drawn up on rising 
ground, the infantry in line and strongly en- 
trenched, and their front further protected by 
their numerous artillery. Either flank of the 
position was guarded by one of the large jhils, 
or marshes, so common in India during the 
rainy season, and the cavalry was posted in 
rear of each jhil in positions favourable for 
checking any turning movement that Lake 
might attempt to make. 

Lake quickly grasped the situation, and re- 
alised that a frontal attack was forced upon 
him. In view, however, of his own weakness 
and of the great strength of the Maratha 
position, he decided to attempt to draw 
Bourquin from his entrenchments. Sending 
orders to his camp for the infantry and artillery 
to get under arms and, leaving the tents 
standing, to advance with all speed, Lake 
proceeded with great coolness to occupy the 
attention of the Maratha army. 

With this design he for a time held his 
ground with the cavalry brigade, disregarding 


the heavy loss in men and horses inflicted on 
them by the Maratha artillery. The British 
infantry and artillery having to get under arms 
and into battle formation (an operation that, at 
that period, was in no circumstances hurriedly 
or negligently performed), and having subse- 
quently to march two miles to the point where 
Lake was manoeuvring with the cavalry brigade, 
was unable to arrive on the scene of action 
in less than an hour from the receipt of the 
order. During this interval Lake, while de- 
liberately exposing his mounted troops, took, 
as was his wont, a full share of their risks. 
His horse was shot under him, upon which 
his son, Major George Lake, dismounted and 
gave him his own charger, himself mounting 
the horse of a trooper who had been killed. 
The General's second charger having been 
brought up, he mounted it, but it presently 
was also killed under him. 

By this time the British infantry and artillery 
were advancing, but unseen as yet by the 
Marathas, who were greatly excited by the 
success of their artillery fire in causing loss 
to Lake's cavalry. Lake, seeing the approach 
of his main body, now ordered his cavalry to 
feign a retreat, — a hazardous movement, which 
this weak mounted force carried out with fine 


steadiness and regularity until, on approaching 
their infantry, they suddenly swept outwards 
at a gallop to both flanks, thus clearing the 
front of the infantry, and then formed up 
forty yards in rear of the right wing. This 
rapid movement, taking the place of the former 
slow retirement, was believed by the Marathas 
to betoken a flight, and they instantly hurried 
forward from their entrenchments, taking with 
them all their artillery, "shouting and exult- 
ing," writes Thorn, an eye-witness, "as if the 
victory had been already secured." A body 
of Sikh cavalry also advanced and threatened 
the British right. 

Lake's infantry, consisting of only eight 
battalions, some of which were considerably 
under strength, were formed in one line, the 
cavalry furnishing their only support ; and 
Lake, placing himself in front of the right 
battalion, the 76th, ordered an advance straight 
on the enemy. The picquets, commanded by 
Lieut. -Colonel White of the 16th Native In- 
fantry, an officer who repeatedly distinguished 
himself during the campaign, moved as skir- 
mishers before the line, and showed both 
skill and courage during the attack. 

Major-Generals Ware and St John led their 
respective wings, and with General Lake headed 


the advance, which was performed with per- 
fect coolness and steadiness, no answer being 
made by the infantry to the very heavy fire 
of round, grape, and chain shot by which they 
were assailed. Colonel Horsford^ placed four 
guns under cover of a village near the left of 
the British line, and opened as heavy a fire 
as possible to aid the infantry advance; while 
a portion of the cavalry, with two galloper 
guns, advanced to the right front to hold oif 
the body of Sikh cavalry which was threaten- 
ing that flank. This body is said to have 
been 5000 strong, but the Sikh cavalry of this 
date was of poor quality. 

The British line moved on in perfect formation 
and in strict silence until it came within 100 
yards of the Maratha guns, many of which 
were of large calibre, and all of an effici- 
ency most unusual in the native armies of 
India. At this close range every gun opened 

' Colonel, afterwards Major-General Sir John, Horsford waa of 
gentle birth, but enlisted into the Bengal Artillery in 1772 at the 
age of twenty-one. Inquiries were made by his family, and he 
was detected by Colonel Pearse, the commandant of the artillery, 
on Horsford pointing out an error in a Greek quotation in some 
papers which he was copying for the Colonel. Horsford, on 
Colonel Pearse's recommendation, received a commission in his 
own name in 1778. He became a valuable and scientific officer 
of artillery, and died of heart disease in 1817, in the forty-fifth 
year of his military service, during which period he never had a 
single day's leave. 


a heavy fire of grape, when the British line 
was ordered to fire a volley and charge with 
the bayonet. Headed by the three generals 
and all the staff and regimental officers, the 
line, having fired, rushed forward with such 
impetuosity that the Marathas instantly broke 
and fled in all directions. It is stated that 
Bourquin was one of the first to quit the 

Lake at once ordered the infantry to halt 
and break into company columns, the cavalry 
with their galloper guns promptly charging 
through the intervals thus formed and taking 
up the pursuit. The greater part of the hap- 
less Marathas fled before the cavalry in defence- 
less flight towards the place where they had 
crossed the Jumna on the previous night, and 
were eventually driven into the river, in whose 
waters great numbers of them were drowned 
or slain by the fire of the galloper guns. 

Lake, observing that a portion of the flying 
enemy, with some of the lighter guns, were 
making for the river to his left front, at once 
wheeled his infantry in that direction and 
pursued the Marathas into the ravines and 
broken ground, in which they attempted to 
find concealment. Here also the resistance 
was brief, and the demoralised enemy were 



quickly put to flight, leaving their guns and 
stores to the victors. 

The battle of Delhi, as the action has been 
named by historians, was a fine achievement, 
reflecting the highest honour both on the British 
troops and their commander. Lake's small 
force, hardly greater in strength than a single 
brigade, marched and fought, with a very brief 
rest, for no less than sixteen hours, from three 
in the morning until seven in the evening, 
and during at least six hours in great heat. 
The conduct of all branches throughout this 
long trial of endurance and determination was 
equal to that exhibited in any exploit of British 

If, however, the troops, British and native 
alike, deserve this high praise, and a con- 
sideration of the circumstances will surely lead 
to that conclusion, it is also clear that the 
commander showed very high qualities. Lake 
was undoubtedly taken by surprise at the out- 
set of the action, for which circumstance he 
cannot be absolved from blame ; but his bold 
and confident handling of his troops during 
the rapid progress of the battle bears com- 
parison with that of his great subordinate, 
Arthur Wellesley. Lake's tactics, judged by 


the cold eye of the pedant, were doubtless 
open to criticism, yet they were justified by 
the circumstances of the case ; they enabled 
him to cope with a most difficult situation, 
and they were rewarded by a striking success. 
The great discrepancy in numbers (he had but 
4500 men in action against the 19,000 of 
Bourquin) would have given pause to many 
a bold spirit. Lake, however, always acted 
on the principle that safety and victory rested 
with the attack ; he was aware of the dis- 
integrating effect on the Maratha army of 
the loss of all the European officers in whom 
they had so long trusted, and he had a just 
confidence in the moral of his own troops. 
The result justified his action. 

Fighting against such odds, and under such 
conditions as have been described, the casual- 
ties of the British force were inevitably heavy. 
They were 461 in killed or wounded, or 10 
per cent of the force engaged. Those of the 
76th, the only European infantry regiment 
present, amounted to 137, of whom 33 were 
killed outright, — a heavy addition to the losses 
which they had sustained at Aligarh. 

In the whole force, 16 British officers and 
172 Europeans of other ranks were killed or 


wounded, or 40 per cent of the total casual- 
ties. This, as at Aligarh, was an unduly- 
heavy proportion, showing both that Lake still 
carried out his principle of giving his European 
troops the toughest work, and that the Marathas 
concentrated their fire against them. The native 
regiments which suffered most heavily were the 
2nd Battalion 4th Native Infantry with 91 
casualties, and the 2nd Battalion 12th Native 
Infantry with 55. It may here be noted that 
the latter battalion, in spite of its numerical 
position, was actually the senior native bat- 
talion in the Bengal army, and had served at 
the battle of Plassy. 

The losses of the Maratha army were never 
accurately ascertained, but the lowest estimate 
was 3000 men killed and wounded. Sixty- 
eight pieces of ordnance were captured on the 
field, all of good quality and fitted with elevat- 
ing screws of the latest French pattern. 

After the battle General Lake moved his 
army nearer to the Jumna and pitched camp 
opposite the city of Delhi, within view of 
whose lofty battlements the action had taken 
place. While arranging to cross the river 
and enter the Moghul capital, Lake addressed 
the following very brief despatch to Lord 
Wellesley : — 

lake's despatch. • 197 

Headquarters' Camp, 
near Delhi Ghaut, 
September 13, 1803. 

My Lord, — For your lordship's information I have 
the honour to enclose a list of the killed and wounded — 
officers and men of the army under my command — in 
the action of the 11th instant. 

Your lordship will perceive that our loss has been 
very great; but when I consider that we moved on 
against an immense artillery, of nearly 100 pieces of 
cannon, and many of a very large calibre, imder as 
heavy a fire as I have ever been witness to ; and that 
this fire was directed against a line, consisting, on the 
most correct calculation, of not more than 4500 men, 
including cavalry, artillery, and infantry ; and that we 
were opposed by upwards of four times that number, 
it is no longer a matter of surprise. 

It is necessary to remark that we had only one brigade 
of cavalry, consisting of the 27 th Light Dragoons and 
the 2nd and 3rd Eegiments of Native Cavalry ; the other 
brigades being detached for the protection of our own 

The more I reflect on the glorious affair of the 11th, 
the more forcibly I feel the bravery and intrepidity 
displayed by every individual composing my army. I 
cannot find words to express my feelings on this occasion, 
nor can I sufficiently lament the loss of many brave 
fellows who have fallen. 

I have the honour to be, my lord, your lordship's 
most faithful humble servant, G. Lake. 

On December 14 the army crossed the Jumna 
and encamped outside Delhi, General Bourquin 
and four of his French officers surrendering the 
same day. 

The power of the French state, as Lord 


Wellesley had justifiably called the Doab, was 
now broken, its army broken and dispersed, 
and its chief officers in British custody. The 
emperor, Shah Alam, gladly accepted British 
protection, and agreed to the appointment of a 
Kesident at his Court. These results came of 
seventeen days of marching and fighting, and 
seldom has a force, numerically so weak, done 
better work in so short a period. 

Lord Wellesley, who well understood the 
appreciation felt by native soldiers of visible 
marks of distinction, ordered the presentation 
of honorary standards or colours to the corps 
who had most distinguished themselves at the 
capture of Aligarh and the battle of Delhi. 
Rightly feeling that this high honour would be 
enhanced in value if shared by the European 
corps. Lord Wellesley conferred the same dis- 
tinction on the 27th Light Dragoons and the 
76th Regiment. The brave 27th have long 
disappeared from the Army List, but the 76th, 
now the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Welling- 
ton's Regiment, still carry the additional colours, 
emblazoned with the words " Lake and Victory," 
and still claim the honourable if unofficial title 
of the " Hindustan Regiment." 

On receiving General Lake's description of 
his victory, Lord Wellesley hastened to write 


his thanks in the following glowing terms, 
which, we may be sure, went home to the 
warm heart of his Commander-in-Chief: — 


September 30, 1803. 

My dear Sir, — I avail myself of the first moment of 
my recovery from sickness to offer you my most cordial 
congratulations on the glorious victory of the 11th, and 
on its decisive and propitious consequences. An event 
more honourable to the British arms never occurred in 
any part of the world, and in India the conduct and 
result of the action stand without parallel. Much as I 
feel indebted to the merits of your army, justice, uni- 
versal consent of all parties, and the plain evidence of 
indisputable fact concur to point my principal attention 
to your matchless energy, ability, and valour. You have 
formed the army to this illustrious and extraordinary 
achievement, and to your personal exertion must be 
attributed the promptitude, skill, and irresistible intre- 
pidity which marked our operations on that memorable 
day. The result must be the utter extinction of the 
last vestige of French influence in India, the defeat 
of the ambitious and rapacious views of the Maratha 
confederates, and a speedy peace with ample indemnity 
and security to the allies. You are entitled to the 
highest honours and rewards which your country and 
your king can bestow ; from me, as the representative 
of both in India, you will receive every testimony which 
I can afford in my public capacity of my admiration 
of your conduct, and of the high value and consideration 
which I attach to your eminent services. My private 
gratitude cannot be expressed, nor is it possible to form 
a hope of discharging such a debt according to my esti- 
mation of its extent. My life, however protracted, 
could not furnish the means of satisfying my sentiments 


on this occasion ; but whatever can be expected from 
the most cordial, firm, and zealous respect, affection and 
attachment, must ever be commanded by you from me, 
and from every person connected with me. 

Ever, my dear sir, yours most faithfully and affec- 
tionately, with the most cordial esteem and attachment, 


Before this generous and appreciative letter 
had reached General Lake, the " matchless 
energy" of which the Governor -General speaks 
had secured yet another triumph to our arms. 
The great fortress of Agra, " the key of 
Hindustan," had fallen. 

Before describing the operations virhich led to 
that result, we must pause in our narrative to 
describe briefly the strange scenes which Lake 
and his officers witnessed at Delhi. Two days 
after the arrival of the British army before the 
walls of the capital, the victorious General was 
received with all practicable ceremony at the 
faded Court of the emperor. Shah Alam, who 
professed great joy at the removal of his 
Maratha and French masters, announced his 
wish to confer the highest available distinction 
on his deliverer, and with this design in view 
it was arranged that Lake should be led into 
the imperial presence by no less a personage 
than Mirza Akbar Shah, the heir-apparent. 


The Prince's arrival at Lake's camp was 
timed for noon on September 16, but with the 
unpunctuality that is considered essential to 
royal dignity in the East, Mirza Akbar Shah 
was three hours late. It was consequently near 
sunset when the joint cavalcade of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief and the imperial Prince arrived 
at the noble palace of Shah Jahan, the glory 
of Moghul architecture. They had found the 
streets of Delhi densely crowded with the 
population of that great though decayed city, 
and even the courts of the palace, themselves 
of great extent, were filled with spectators 
anxious to realise for themselves the coming 
restoration to something of its former splendour 
of the house of Taimur ; for to the people 
of Delhi the Moghul dynasty was very dear, 
as is its memory to the present day. 

The progress of Lake and his cavalcade 
through the crowded assemblage had therefore 
been slow, and on that account had appeared 
to them stately, and not until the moment of 
their introduction to the royal hall of audience 
did the Englishmen realise how great had been 
the change from the past magnificence of Delhi. 

No squalor could deprive the exquisite 
Diwan-i-Khas of its beauty of outline and 
colour, and Lake and his following well knew 


that in these very courts which they traversed 
the eyes of ambassadors from the monarchs of 
the West had been dazzled by the pomp of 
Indian majesty, that there great tributary 
princes had bowed like the lowest slaves, and 
the simplest expression of the monarch's will 
had passed as a law to an empire vast as 
modern Europe. 

" But now," writes Thorn, rising to unwonted 
eloquence, "such is the vanity of earthly 
grandeur and the uncertainty of mortal power, 
the descendant of the great Akbar, and the 
victorious Aurangzeb, was found, an object of 
pity, blind and aged, stripped of authority, and 
reduced to poverty, seated under a small 
tattered canopy, the fragment of royal state 
and the mockery of human pride." 

Lake was received by the emperor with the 
utmost cordiality, and by the courtiers with 
every demonstration of gratitude. It was true 
that the arrival of his army and the assumption 
of a British protectorate over the wreck of the 
Moghul empire promised in reality no more 
to the emperor and his subjects than a change 
of masters. That reflection would come later; 
now the defeat and flight of the hated 
Marathas was the first thought in every mind, 
and joy and gratitude prevailed. 


The emperor had nothing to bestow on his 
deliverer but titles of honour, and these fell 
upon Lake in a lavish flood. The highest title 
of the empire had already been conferred on 
Sindhia, but the second in precedence was 
available, and thenceforth Lake had every right 
to style himself "Sword of the State, Hero of 
the land, Lord of the age. Victorious in war." 
Even in plain English there is dignity in these 
titles ; judge then of their effect when recited 
in sonorous Persian. 

To the practical and unimaginative minds of 
a later age these high-sounding titles, emanating 
from the ruined sovereign of a bankrupt 
empire, may sound farcical and empty, but they 
bore another meaning to General Lake. To 
him, courtier as well as soldier, and emphati- 
cally a royalist, the emperor was a legitimate 
sovereign of a lineage second to none in the 
world. Shah Alam, rich or poor, was " the 
Great Moghul," the descendant and represent- 
ative of Aurangzeb, Shah Jahdn, Akbar, and 
Bdbar, and therefore a monarch from whom 
titles might be received by any subject with 
gratitude and pride. Not only did Lake value 
his Moghul titles, and frankly acknowledge the 
fact in a letter to Lord Wellesley, but they 
were the only reward that he would accept 

204 THE MARATHA WAR 01" 1803. 

from Shah Alam, when the latter presently 
found the imperial treasury in a condition to 
which it had been a stranger during his life- 
time at least, and offered a large sum of 
money to his deliverer. 

Of Lake's disinterested and generous character 
we shall speak hereafter, but this is a fitting 
occasion to quote his statement that he had 
" ever held money in most sovereign contempt," 
— a sentiment that by no means all great com- 
manders have shared with him. 

Lake made no longer halt at Delhi than was 
required to rest his troops and to collect sup- 
plies for a fresh advance. Owing to the smaU- 
ness of his force, he was unable to leave an 
adequate garrison behind him, but Colonel David 
Ochterlony, the officer selected by Lake for 
the post of Resident, was a host in himself, 
and Lieut. -Colonel Burn, the officer chosen to 
command the garrison of one battalion and four 
companies of Native Infantry, was also brave and 
capable. To strengthen Burn's inadequate force 
Colonel Ochterlony received orders to raise two 
battalions of najibs (men from distant states) 
from the disbanded sepoys of Bourquin's regi- 
ments. These were commanded by Lieutenants 
Birch and Woodville, two of the English officers 
formerly in the Maratha service. Eight squad- 


rons of Fleury's Hindustani Horse entered the 
British service at the same time, and at their 
own request were placed under the command 
of James Skinner, an officer of mixed blood 
who, having been discharged from the Maratha 
service against his will by General Perron, had, 
as already mentioned, joined Lake before Aligarh. 
Skinner, a daring and experienced soldier, who 
had seen much hard fighting in the wars between 
the Marathas and the Rajputs, was greatly 
trusted and respected by native soldiers, who 
had converted his name into Sikandar, by which 
designation he was well known throughout 
Hindustan. When the surrendered cavalry were 
drawn up for General Lake's inspection they 
observed Skinner riding among Lake's staiF. 
Lake asked the troopers whom they would like 
as a commanding officer, expecting them to 
nominate a countryman of their own, but the 
sowars with one voice replied, " Give us Sikandar 

Skinner stipulated that neither he nor his 
men should be required to serve against Sindhia, 
and they were consequently not employed dur- 
ing the campaign of 1803. Their services in 
the following year will presently be recorded. 
Skinner's Horse attained to great distinction, 
and are to-day the senior cavalry regiment of 


the Indian army, the First Duke of York's Own 
Lancers (Skinner's Horse). They still wear the 
yellow uniform selected by Skinner for their 
adornment, and are perhaps the most pictur- 
esque corps in the army. 

In leaving Ochterlony at Delhi, Lake was 
well aware that he was depriving himself of 
the best subordinate officer in his army, — of the 
man, as he said, in whom he felt more confi- 
dence than in any officer he had met in India. 
David Ochterlony, who has so favourably im- 
pressed Lake, was now forty-five years of age. 
Born in North America of Scottish parents, he 
had entered the Bengal army in 1777, and 
established his reputation as a brave and cap- 
able soldier in the campaigns of Sir Eyre Coote 
against Haider Ali of Mysore and his French 
allies under Bussy. Ochterlony accompanied 
the Bengal detachment which, in 1781, marched 
1100 miles under Colonel Thomas Deane Pearse 
to join the Madras army and rendered valiant 
services. Ochterlony, during this campaign, 
commanded the 24th Bengal Native Infantry 
at Cuddalore in 1783, and was at their head 
on the famous occasion when they crossed 
bayonets with a French infantry regiment and 
repulsed its attack. Ochterlony was wounded 
and taken prisoner in the charge. He had 


been promoted lieutenant-colonel in March 1803. 
We shall see presently how he justified the 
confidence reposed in him by Lake. 

The Commander-in-Chief's new objective was 
the great fortress of Agra, known to the native 
world of India as " the key of Hindustan," 
and the army marched from Delhi on Sep- 
tember 24 in high spirits and good health. 
The route taken lay along the left bank 
of the Jumna, and the heaviest of the guns 
captured at the battle of Delhi were conveyed 
in boats down the river for the expected siege 

Four days after leaving Delhi, Lake, who 
had evidently been anxious to receive an as- 
surance of Lord Wellesley's approval of his 
operations at Aligarh, was made happy by 
receipt of a private letter from the Governor- 
General. This, unfortunately, has not been pre- 
served, but its purport may be gathered from 
the following reply, interesting as a revelation 
of Lake's warmth of heart and appreciation of 
kindness : — 

Urwali, September 29, 1803. 

My Lord, — Your letter of the 15 th instant reached 
me last night, couched in such terms of friendship and 
flattering approbation of my conduct as to leave me 
quite destitute of words to express my feelings and 
sensations upon the occasion, and I can only assure your 


lordship that, although I may be deficient in language 
to thank you for your abundant kindness towards me, 
my heart overflows with gratitude, and will, as long 
as I draw breath, ever glow with the warmest senti- 
ments of attachment and affection for the confidence 
and powers you have so liberally and fully entrusted 
and reposed in me, and of which, I trust, you will never 
have cause to repent. 

I accord with your lordship in thinking that the 
honour and interest of our country must certainly con- 
sole us for the loss of so many brave men, when we 
consider the advantage of their achievements. 

It affords me very peculiar satisfaction to perceive 
your lordship approves so entirely of my conduct in 
the capture of Alighar, as I stood alone in my opinion 
respecting the attack. I am now more than ever con- 
vinced it was perfectly right, as a long siege would 
have lost the country, and cost us, I do most firmly 
believe, a considerable number more lives. 

I used every endeavour to avoid the effusion of 
human blood, which is a source of great satisfaction to 
my mind, as I think no man in my situation should 
wantonly throw away the lives of his own men, or 
inhumanly butcher those of his enemy. These senti- 
ments will, I trust, plead my excuse to my God and 
my country, and entitle me to a continuance of your 
friendship and affection. — I have the honour to be, my 
dear lord, your most attached and devoted servant, 

G. Lake. 

On October 2 the army arrived before the 
ancient and sacred city of Muttra, where it 
was joined by the detached force under Colonel 
Vandeleur, whose movements have already been 
described. On arrival at Muttra all the Hindu 


soldiers in the army were granted leave for 
the remainder of the day to enable them to 
worship at the holy city of Bindrabund, which 
is close to Muttra. 

On October 3 the army marched half-way 
from Muttra to Agra, and at about two in 
the afternoon of October 4 it arrived before 
that city, passing near Sikandra, the beautiful 
tomb of the Emperor Akbar, and encamping on 
or about the site of the present cantonments. 
The city of Agra was found to be surrounded 
by a wall, part of which still exists, and was 
commanded by the great fort built by Akbar 
in the reign of our Queen Elizabeth. The fort, 
which stands on the bank of the Jumna, has 
lofty walls and flanking towers of red sand- 
stone, with a deep ditch provided with a 
" fausse-braie."^ It lies to the south-west of 
the city, and the walls of the latter abutted 
on the fort on two sides. To the south and 
south-west of the fort are a number of ravines 
running to the Jumna. About 250 yards from 
the fort, and inside the city, stands the Jamma 
Masjid, or Great Mosque, on an elevated site. 

General Lake's task in attacking Agra was 

1 " Fauase-braie " — works designed to bring fire on the assail- 
ants of the curtain of a fortress, at places not protected by fire 
from the bastions. 



somewhat complicated by the following circum- 
stance. In addition to the garrison of the 
fortress, consisting of 4000 men under Colonel 
George Hessing, a Dutch officer, there was, 
encamped on the glacis of the fort, a force 
some 7000 strong which had first to be dealt 
with. This body was composed of Perron's 
5th Brigade, and of three battalions from the 
2nd and 3rd Brigades. All three Brigades had 
been ordered up from the Deccan on war 
becoming imminent, but, owing to Lake's un- 
expectedly early commencement of operations, 
had arrived near Delhi just too late for the 
battle of September 11. The seven battalions 
had marched to Agra and requested admission 
to the fortress, but had been excluded by 
the garrison, which had broken into rebellion. 
Hessing, the commandant, and Sutherland, the 
next senior officer, had been confined by the 
troops, and when Lake, wishing to save loss 
of life, summoned the garrison to surrender, 
he could obtain no answer from them. In 
these circumstances no serious resistance was to 
be expected from the garrison ; but the seven 
battalions outside, which had with them twenty- 
six pieces of ordnance, had maintained their 
discipline, and promised to offer a stout resist- 
ance. They had taken up a strong position 


under the walla of the fortress, and held the 
town of Agra and a number of ravines which 
led from the river Jumna up to the glacis, 
which they also occupied. They were fighting, 
literally, with their backs to the wall, and 
Lake, who had no men to spare, saw that he 
would have no easy task in attacking them. 

There were 4000 Maratha troops in the 
fortress, and should Lake attack the force on 
the glacis and town only, ignoring the gar- 
rison, there was a strong probability that the 
latter would seize the opportunity and take 
the British force at a disadvantage. Yet he 
could make no delay, for he was aware that at 
no gp:eat distance there was a force of seventeen 
battalions, also marching towards Agra from the 
Deccan, who might presently fall upon him. 

Lake therefore took the only proper resolu- 
tion — to attack simultaneously the town and 
the force outside the fortress, while holding 
the latter in check by a threatened assault. 
For the external attack he selected, as far as 
possible, regiments which had not been engaged 
at Aligarh and Delhi, or which had suffered 
the least severe losses in those actions, while 
with the remainder of his army he took up a 
fresh position which prohibited any sortie from 
the fortress. On the morning of October 10 


Brigadier-General Clarke was ordered to attack 
the town of Agra with the 2nd Brigade, while 
three battalions, the 1st Battalion 14th Native 
Infantry and 1st and 2nd Battalions 15th Native 
Infantry, under Lieut. - Colonel M'Culloch, were 
detailed to drive out the Maratha troops hold- 
ing the ravines previously described. 

M'CuUoch's force attacked first with great 
spirit, and quickly overcoming the resistance 
of the Marathas, drove them from the ravines 
without much difficulty. Excited by their suc- 
cess, and, it is said, led on by the too impetuous 
courage of their officers, M'CuUoch's battalions 
unfortunately exceeded their orders and pressed 
on to the glacis in hope of capturing the guns 
placed in battery there. In this attempt they 
came under a heavy fire of grape and musketry 
fi:om the fort, and sustained severe losses. 

The 2nd Brigade also found their task no 
easy one, two battalions becoming so dis- 
couraged at one period of the attack as to 
retreat to their starting - place. Happily the 
remaining unit of the brigade, a wing of the 
16th Native Infantry, gallantly held its ground 
under Lieut. - Colonel White, ^ and Brigadier - 

' Henry White joined the army in August 1772 at the unusually 
late age of thirty, and served four years on active service in the 
"Select Picket" before obtaining the rank of ensign. In 1782, 


General Clarke, who highly distinguished him- 
self, was subsequently able to bring back to 
the attack the battalions which had retired, 
and finally to maintain possession of the town. 
In a letter written to Lord Wellesley while 
these operations were in progress, Lake said 
that the troops of the enemy had fought most 
desperately, and that they were supposed to be 
the best that Perron had. He added, however, 
that he intended to open his batteries against 
the fort, and that, as the ground was very 
favourable, he had no doubt of being able 

as there was no fighting in Bengal, White obtained a transfer to 
the 12th Native Infantry, then serving in Madras under Colonel 
T. T>. Pearse. He was at Cuddalore in the charge against the 
French, then commanding the 12th Native Infantry as a lieutenant, 
and subsequently marched his regiment 2000 miles to Cawnpore. 
In 1790 he again marched to the Carnatic in Colonel Cockerell's 
detachment. He highly distinguished himself at Seringapatam in 
1792, and saved the life of Lord Comwallis. In 1798 he went 
home for health, having attained the rank of major after twenty- 
six years of nearly continuous active service, at the age of 

On the outbreak of the Maratha War in 1803 White, now a 
lieutenant-colonel and sixty-one years old, again volunteered for 
active service, and resigned a comfortable command at Calcutta 
for that of one of the regiments ordered to the front. As the 
narrative shows, he repeatedly distinguished himself by his 
activity and determination. He was wounded in the chest by a 
grape-shot at Laswari. Major-General Sir Henry White, K.C.B., 
died at Bath in November 1822, aged eighty. Active to the last, 
twelve or fourteen hours before his death he ordered his servants 
to put him on his horse for a last ride. 


quickly to breach the walls. The ravines cap- 
tured that day would serve as admirable 
approaches to the fortress. 

Lake added an expression of opinion which 
has often been quoted, and which has value 
to-day although a great part of the native 
Indian army is now composed of races which 
rank among the highest of the fighting peoples 
of the world. " The sepoys," he wrote, " have 
behaved excessively well, but from my observa- 
tion this day, as well as on every other, it is 
impossible to do great things in a gallant and 
quick style without Europeans ; therefore if 
they do not in England think it necessary to 
send British troops in the proportion of one to 
three sepoy regiments, which is, in fact, as 
one to six" (the native regiments having each 
two battalions), " they will stand a good chance 
of losing their possessions if a French force 
once get a footing in India. You may perceive 
by the loss of European officers in sepoy regi- 
ments how necessary it is for them to expose 
themselves — in short, everything has been done 
by the example and exertions of the officers." 

Lake's anticipations as to the success of the 
day's operations were fulfilled. By night the 
Maratha troops had all been driven from the 
town, and the twenty-six guns there and on the 


glacis had all been captured. The loss of the 
Marathas was 600 men, while that of Brigadier- 
General Clarke and Lieut. -Colonel M'Culloch's 
battalions was 228 killed and wounded, including 
2 officers killed and 7 wounded. 

Three days later 2500 men, about half of the 
remaining Maratha force outside the fortress, sur- 
rendered and marched into the British camp, the 
other half swelling the garrison of the fort ; and 
very early on the same morning (October 13) 
Lake attacked the fortress itself. Approaches 
had been constructed, as designed by Lake, by 
way of the ravines captured on the 10th, and a 
breaching battery of eight 18 -pounders and four 
howitzers was erected 350 yards from the great 
wall of the fort, on its south-east side and near 
the river. In constructing this battery, volun- 
teers from the three British cavalry regiments 
were employed, and Lake thus secured the 
European leadership, to which he attached so 
much importance, without subjecting the 76th 
to further loss. That regiment was already 
dangerously weak, and it was necessary to hus- 
band it for the coming fight with the seventeen 
battalions from the Deccan. The battery was 
completed in the course of the day, but the 
garrison had no head and no heart. They were 
warned by their deposed officers that, should 


the fort be stormed, they would be put to 
the sword, and they now authorised Colonels 
Hessing and Sutherland to make terms for 

The intended bombardment was consequently 
stopped, and in the afternoon of October 13 
Captain Salkeld, an officer of General Lake's 
staff, entered the fort and conveyed the Com- 
mander-in-Chiefs terms. These demanded the 
surrender of all treasure, arms, and other muni- 
tions of war. The officers and soldiers of the 
garrison, with their families, were to be free to 
go wherever they desired. Although the native 
officers had promised in writing to accept the 
terms of surrender, whatever they might be, and 
certainly had no cause for complaint in those 
offered. Captain Salkeld could obtain no answer. 
Disputes broke out, and presently the troops 
on the ramparts opened a furious fire on the 
British trenches, which continued throughout the 
night. Salkeld was not injured, but experienced 
many dangers from friend as well as foe while 
finding his way back to the British camp. B,e- 
sistance now appearing inevitable, the cavalry 
working - parties continued all night in the 
trenches, but made no answer to the in- 
effective fire from the ramparts, only firing 
an occasional shot to drive away the Mar- 


atha sharpshooters who, from time to time, 
approached the very edge of our battery. 

Matters continued in this state until October 
17, when the battery, having been completed, 
opened a heavy fire on the south-east bastion of 
the fort. Two enfilading batteries, placed to 
either flank of the breaching battery, also came 
into action, and the fire speedily proved so 
effective that it was evident that the breach 
would soon be practicable. The Marathas, on 
becoming aware of this fact, now determined to 
abandon the defence, and between five and six 
thousand men presently marched out and laid 
down their arms. 

Twenty tumbrils laden with treasure, to 
the amount of twenty - four lakhs of rupees 
(£250,000), were found in the fort, with 164 
guns, ammunition, and stores in abundance. 

One of the captured guns, known as " the 
great gun of Agra," was famous throughout the 
East. It weighed 30 tons, though the natives 
believed it to be nearly twice that weight, and 
was constructed to throw an iron ball weighing 
1500 lb. General Lake desired to send this gun 
as a trophy to the Prince Regent, but when 
being shipped on a raft on the Jumna the great 
gun slipped from its lashings and sank into the 
bed of the river, where it lay until the year 


1833, when an economical Governor-General had 

it burst with gunpowder and the fragments sold 

by auction, — an unromantic method of disposing 

of an historical relic believed to date from the 

reign of Akbar. As for the quarter of a million 

of treasure found at Agra, General Lake followed 

the ancient custom of our army and at once 

distributed it as prize-money to the troops. He, 

as appears from a letter to the Governor-General 

written on October 22, was uneasy lest this step 

might not meet with approval, and left his 

own share of the money untouched until Lord 

Wellesley's wishes should be known. 

The reply of the Governor-General is so cordial 

in its appreciation of the good qualities of Lake, 

and so unaffected in its demonstration of brotherly 

pride in the triumph of Arthur Wellesley at 

Assaye,^ that it is worth reading, showing as it 

does the pleasantest side of Lord WeUesley's 


Fort William, October 29, 1803. 

My dear Sir, — Your happy success at Agra has 
afforded me the most cordial satisfaction. This is the 
fruit of your glory in the field. I have remarked that 
your humane and generous heart has suffered severely, 
even in the midst of your victories, for the necessary loss 
of gallant British blood, which must attend such extra- 
ordinary efforts of valour ; but I trust you now receive 

' Fought September 23, the day before Lake left Delhi. 


the best consolation for the fall of those whom you have 
lamented, in reaping the full benefit of their example 
and noble deeds, and in securing Agra, the most im- 
portant single object of the war, without effusion of blood, 
and by the mere lustre and terror of your name. This 
is the most grateful result of the triumph of our arms ; 
nor can a more convincing proof be afforded of the 
humane and just policy of that promptitude, decision, 
and energy which marked your conduct in the com- 
mencement of the war. I am persuaded that many 
lives have been saved by the early sacrifice of a few 
brave men, whose gallantry has struck terror into the 
hearts of the enemy. I have considered the fall of Agra 
as the most propitious event of this wonderful and im- 
mortal campaign, and I have received your notification 
of the surrender of the key of Hindostan as the signal of 
general rejoicing. 

You will have shared my sentiments on the noble and 
splendid victory gained by my brother on the 23 rd of 
September. His official account of the action has not 
yet reached me, but I have received authentic accounts 
of all the particulars of that glorious day, which have 
been forwarded to you by express ; he is worthy to 
command under your orders ; and I should almost have 
believed that he must have received them from Delhi, 
before he fought the battle of Assaye. His official return 
of ordnance taken on the field amounts to ninety-eight 
pieces of artillery. I have sent you the only official 
letter yet received from him. 

You have now actually accomplished every point of 
my instructions in the few weeks which have intervened 
between the 29th of August and the l7th of October. 
If the successes of your operations stood alone, they 
would astonish all Asia, but combined with the blows 
struck in every other quarter, it is impossible to convey 
to you an adequate idea of the splendour of your fame 
in this part of the world. With all the sanguine temper 


of my mind I declare that I could not have hoped for a 
completion of my plans at once so rapid and so secure. 
I must now send you fresh instructions, as you have 
reached the limits of all my first ideas. 

You will excuse the delay of my official despatches 
when you reflect that I am compelled every hour to look 
all round India, and at this moment endeavouring to 
despatch to England an adequate representation of your 
merits and services. 

I am particularly anxious to send you an order for 
the distribution of prize ; I hope to be able to furnish it 
to-morrow. In the meanwhile, you may assure the army 
that I will grant all within my power, and even stretch 
that power to the utmost for their interest. 

I shall issue a general order, comprehending your 
operations from the battle of Delhi to the fall of Agra, 
on Monday. — Ever, my dear General, yours affectionately, 
with sincere respect and confidence, 


Assaye was indeed, as the letter states, fought 
as if inspired by Lake himself. There was the 
same disregard of adverse circumstance, and the 
same dogged determination to do or die, as were 
shown at Aligarh, Delhi, and Agra. In his 
after career the great Duke showed qualities of 
patience and self-restraint nobler perhaps than 
the rash courage that won Assaye ; but in one 
respect he, to his last fight at Waterloo, always 
took Lake as his model, namely, in his fixed habit 
of going to the critical spot, so that, when there 
was a reverse to be averted or an advantage to 
be followed up, the commander was ever ready 

lake's losses. 221 

to meet the emergency himself rather than by 

Lake has often been criticised for his exposure 
of himself to the chances of war, but the most 
casual study of the Duke of Wellington's career 
will show that he acted in precisely the same 
manner, and, of course, with the happiest results. 

In another letter to the Governor-General of 
about the same date, General Lake expresses 
his great pleasure at the fact that he had not 
been obliged to storm Agra, as "from the 
intricate passages in the fort, and the strong 
garrison, composed of the most desperate caste 
of men, we must have lost a number of most 
valuable lives, particularly Europeans, which 
cannot be spared." Lake was indeed greatly 
in want of reinforcements. His fifty days of 
marching and fighting since crossing the Maratha 
frontier, his three actions — at Aligarh, before 
Delhi, and at Agra — had cost him nearly 1000 
in killed and wounded, to say nothing of the 
casualties from sickness ; he had in addition 
been obliged to garrison the three captured 
fortresses and the town of Muttra ; and before 
him lay a task which must immediately be 
taken in hand — the destruction of the residue 
of the Maratha army in Hindustan. 

This force, known to consist of seventeen 


battalions of infantry with a numerous artillery, 
lay at a distance of some thirty miles from 
Agra, in the neighbourhood of Bhartpur; and 
although its leaders had not shown sufficient 
military instinct to attack Lake's army while 
engaged in the reduction of Agra, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief felt that at any moment they 
might take the easier course of recapturing 
Delhi, with its inadequate garrison. 

Weak as he was, Lake therefore decided at 
once to grasp the nettle, and, leaving a weak 
garrison at Agra, marched on October 27 in 
the direction of his enemy. He could take 
with him no more than ten battalions of 
infantry,^ but all had now seen war and were 
of tried valour. Above all, he relied on the 
remains of the 76th, that " handful of heroes " 
as he presently described them, and on his 
three cavalry brigades trained under his own 
eye, and still with their numbers but little 
diminished. Marching rapidly, Lake covered 
sixteen miles in his first march, encamping at 

^ The following eight battalions fought at Laswari : E.M.'s 
76th Begiment, 2nd Battalion 8th, 2nd Battalion 9th, 1st and 2nd 
Battalions 12th, 1st and 2nd Battalions 15th, six companies 2nd 
Battalion 16th Native Infantry, and one company 1st Battalion 
11th Native Infantry. In addition were the two battalions men- 
tioned below as having been left with the baggage at Fahehpur- 


Karauli-ki-serai ; but owing to heavy rain, un- 
usual at this time of year, he was detained at 
this place on the following day, October 28. 

The march was resumed on the 29th, and 
the force encamped north - west of Fahehpur- 
Sikri, that curious and interesting city. Here 
Lake, desiring to move yet faster, left his heavy 
guns and baggage under the escort of two 
battalions of the 4th Brigade, and on October 
30 made a march of twenty miles, moving 
direct on the enemy's guns, which had been 
heard bombarding the small town of Khatumbar. 

The march of October 31 brought the army 
close to this place but a few hours after the 
enemy had left it, and Lake determined to 
make a night march and bring on an immediate 
action. The consequence of this resolution was 
the battle of Laswari, one of the most severely 
contested victories won by the British army in 




In accordance with his determination, Lake set 
out at the head of all his cavalry at 11 o'clock 
on the night of October 31, resolved to engage 
the Marathas and hold them at the place 
where he might find them, whatever its nature, 
until the arrival of his infantry, which he 
ordered to march at 3 o'clock in the follow- 
ing morning. Lake and his cavalry covered 
twenty-four miles in a ride through the dark 
ness of some six hours' duration, and came up 
with the retreating Maratha army near the 
village of Laswari at about sunrise on the 
morning of November 1. 

They were now commanded by one of their 
own oflficers, Abaji by name, a Maratha whose 
previous career had shown him to be possessed 
of great pertinacity of character and of con- 
siderable military talent. Abaji had at his dis- 
posal seventeen battalions of the best infantry 


of Perron's army, known as " the Deccan In- 
vincibles," — fifteen battalions having recently 
marched up from that region, while the other 
two had escaped from the battle of Delhi. In 
addition, the Maratha army possessed 72 guns 
and between 4000 and 5000 horse. Abaji's 
intention had been to retire into Mewat, a 
hilly region to the south-west of Delhi, and 
Lake's determination to bring on a battle before 
the Marathas could reach that favourable ground 
was the cause of his rapid night march and 
somewhat hazardous division of his forces. 

When the British cavalry first came in sight, 
the Marathas showed signs of confusion, and 
appeared to purpose continuing their retreat ; 
but either from the knowledge that Lake's 
infantry and heavy artillery could not be within 
reach, or from fear of attack by the British 
cavalry while in the act of retreating, Abaji 
presently turned at bay and showed no mean 
skill in taking up a defensive position. 

His disposition of his infantry and artillery 
was not dissimilar to that of Bourquin at the 
battle of Delhi, for the former, in a long line, 
rested on the villages of Laswari and Malpur, 
in which were placed a number of guns, and 
which provided ready - made defences for the 
flanks. The remainder of the artillery were dis- 



posed along the front of the infantry, and were 
concealed from view by the long grass. 

Laswari, the first of the two villages to be 
reached by the British cavalry, stood close to 
the north bank of the Baraki nala, a small 
stream running between high and precipitous 
banks. The Maratha line of battle lay with 
its right at Laswari, and consequently with the 
stream in its right rear. The village of Malpur, 
on which lay the left of the line, was some 
2000 yards distant from Laswari. The Maratha 
cavalry, which was of inferior quality, was drawn 
up in rear of Malpur, and took no part in the 
first phase of the fierce action which was now 
about to begin. 

When General Lake first saw the Maratha 
army, it was difficult to discern its movements. 
The hurried assemblage of its horse, artillery, 
infantry, and baggage caused a cloud of dust 
through which nothing could for a time be seen. 
Just above the village of Laswari, too, the stream 
of the Baraki was intercepted by a dam, in order 
to provide water for a smaU canal which flowed 
eastward from the nala. Abaji had ordered this 
dam to be cut, and the water thus suddenly 
released flowed over the slightly lower ground 
over which the British cavalry would have to 
advance to attack the Marathas. 


The dust and the inundation confirmed Lake 
in his belief that Abaji was still endeavouring 
to escape, and determined at all costs to prevent 
the removal of the Maratha guns, he ordered 
his advanced-guard and the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, 
which had crossed the nala, to advance as 
rapidly as possible through the newly created 
swamp, move along the whole Maratha front, 
and attack Malpur and the left portion of the 
infantry line. This flank movement would clear 
the ground for the advance of the 1st Cavalry 
Brigade, which was ordered to cross the nala 
and attack the village of Laswari and the 
right portion of the infantry line. The 2nd 
Cavalry Brigade, which was in rear, was to 
attack in like manner when ordered to do 
so. The advanced -guard (one squadron of the 
8th Light Dragoons, commanded by Major 
Griffiths of the 29th Light Dragoons), and the 
1st Brigade (remainder of the 8 th Light 
Dragoons, 1st and 3rd Native Cavalry), com- 
manded by Colonel T. P. Vandeleur, advanced 
somewhat slowly at first, in consequence of the 
inundation, but afterwards at high speed, ig- 
noring the heavy fire opened upon them by 
all the Maratha guns, which caused numerous 
casualties among men and horses. Approaching 
the Maratha left, this fine brigade, headed by 


the advanced-guard, charged with such impetu- 
osity as to break clean through the Maratha 
line and to penetrate into the village of Malpur, 
where they captured several guns. Colonel 
Vandeleur, however, did not live to lead this 
gallant charge. Seeing that the moment of 
action had arrived, immediately before ordering 
the charge he had turned to address a few 
words to his own regiment, the 8th Light 
Dragoons, which were at the head of his brigade, 
and urged them in spirited language to bring 
honour to their standards, pointing at the harp 
and crown with which they were emblazoned. 
Vandeleur then placed himself at the head of 
his beloved regiment, and while in the act of 
drawing his sword, was shot through the heart 
by a French artilleryman. 

Vandeleur oflPered too conspicuous a mark to 
the enemy that day, for while his regiment 
were mounted on grey Arabs, he himself 
rode a favourite black charger.^ Lieut.-Colonel 
Gordon of the 1st Bengal Cavalry now took 
command of the 1st Brigade, and led it in its 
glorious and successful charge through the 
Maratha position. This was an extraordinary 

* Colonel Vandeleur's horse was kept by one of his brother 
officers until the regiment left India, when it was shot, in order 
that it might not fall into unworthy hands (Regimental Records, 
8th Hussars). 


achievement, for the Maratha infantry were 
thickly posted, and were drawn up behind a 
deep breast- work, strengthened by all the bullock- 
carts and other vehicles of their army. The 
guns, too, arranged as has been described along 
the front, were united to one another by chains, 
forming an awkward obstacle to cavalry. The 
Maratha artillerymen, as was commonly the 
case with natives of India serving in that arm, 
showed fine courage and devotion, holding their 
fire until the British cavalry had arrived within 
twenty yards of the muzzles of the guns. So 
strongly was General Lake impressed by the 
conduct of these brave artillerymen that he 
subsequently enlisted all their survivors who 
desired it into the British service. Fighting 
against so determined and powerful an enemy, 
and in the teeth of such formidable obstacles, 
it will be readily imagined that the losses of 
the advanced-guard and 1st Brigade were very 
heavy. This was particularly the case with the 
advanced - guard, the first body of troops to 
come into action, and a brief extract from the 
' Records of the 8th Hussars ' brings this portion 
of the battle of Laswari vividly before us : — 

" Lieutenant Lindon (commanding the leading 
troop) received a grape-shot in the knee, and 
died within twenty -four hours in the arms of 


his beloved friend, Cornet Burrowes. After 
Lieutenant Lindon was wounded, the command 
of the troop devolved on Lieutenant Willard, 
but he presently had his arm carried away by 
a charge of grape while cheering on his men 
under a destructive fire. Cornet Burrowes next 
took command, and continued at his post in 
spite of severe wounds in the face and head, 
received in single combat with a French 
artillery officer." ^ 

The 8th Light Dragoons had 3 officers, 16 
rank and file, and 72 horses kiUed ; and 2 
officers, 34 sergeants, rank and file, and 24 
horses wounded, in addition to 18 horses missing. 

While the 1st Brigade was thus distinguishing 
itself, the 3rd Brigade, under Colonel Macan, 
was hurrying to the front to deliver its attack 
on the right flank of the Marathas. The 
staff of this brigade consisted of three brothers 
Macan — Richard, the brigadier, Arthur, brigade- 
major, and Tom, aide -de - camp ; none were 
touched at Laswari, though none but Lake 
himself can have been more exposed. Macan's 
brigade came up at a gallop, making for a 
point a little clear of the village of Laswari, 

^ The Begimental Becords add that during the battle three 
French officers were captured by officers of the 8th Light 


and charged through the enemy's guns and 
infantry as gallantly and successfully as the 
1st Brigade. Having pierced the line, the 
Brigade immediately formed up again and 
charged twice more, backwards and forwards, 
"with surprising order and effect" through the 
Marathas. All the guns in this portion of the 
ground were captured, but there were no means 
of carrying more than two of them off the field, 
and the enemy was so strong and his fire so 
severe that Lake ordered the brigade to retire 
just as Macan was about to lead on his men to 
a fourth charge. 

Similar orders were given to the 1st Brigade ; 
and the Commander-in-Chief, finding that he 
was losing men and horses with no adequate 
result, withdrew all the cavalry from the 
attack and ordered them to form up between 
the villages of Sahajpur and Singraka, to 
await the arrival of the infantry. There was 
no long delay, for, knowing what was before 
them, the infantry had strained every nerve 
to be up in time. Marching at three in the 
morning, they covered the twenty -four miles 
to the bank of the Baraki nala, near Laswari, 
by eleven o'clock. It was now evident that 
the Marathas meant fighting, though on the 
appearance of our infantry they sent Lake 


word that they might be willing to surrender 
their guns on certain conditions. Anxious, if 
possible, to prevent more loss of life, Lake gave 
the Marathas an hour in which to offer definite 
terms, and expressed his readiness to accept 
the conditions tentatively proposed by them. 
Knowing, however, from his experience at 
Agra, that the negotiations would probably 
break down, he continued preparation for re- 
newing the fight if necessary. The galloper 
guns were withdrawn from the cavalry regiments 
and formed into two batteries, and the field 
guns which had been brought up with the 
infantry were formed into two more. 

After the infantry had eaten some food and 
rested for a short time, it was formed into two 
columns and ordered to attack the Maratha 
right, which had now been withdrawn from 

Far from surrendering, indeed the Maratha 
general had employed the hour granted him 
by General Lake in taking up a new and 
formidable position. Seeing that there was a 
danger that the British infantry might approach 
Laswari under cover of the steep bank of the 
Baraki nala, Abaji had now drawn up his 
infantry in two lines facing east, at right angles 
with the nala, and with the right of the lines 


between 300 and 400 yards distant from it. 
The village of Malpur lay between the two 
lines, near the left flank, and would therefore 
furnish a rallying-point on that side; but the 
right flank of the position was en I'air. To 
remedy this defect a very strong body of cavalry 
was posted close in rear of the right of the 
second line. The artillery, as usual, was dis- 
tributed along the front and in the village. 

General Lake at once saw that the right 
flank was his point of attack, and ordered his 
infantry to advance in open company - column 
along the nala until they should have gained 
a point whence they could advance against 
the Maratha right. Lake ordered the leading 
brigade, on arrival at the desired point, to 
drive in the enemy's infantry and capture 
Malpur. Colonel Macan was directed to sup- 
port the advance of the infantry with the 3rd 
Cavalry Brigade. The 2nd Cavalry Brigade, 
under Lieut. - Colonel John Vandeleur, was 
detached towards the Maratha left, to watch 
for any opportunity of action that might be 
afforded by the coming infantry attack, and to 
fall upon the Marathas should they retreat. 
The 1st Cavalry Brigade, under Lieut. -Colonel 
Gordon, had lost so heavily in the first phase 
of the battle that Lake now held it in reserve. 


determined not to employ it further save as a 
last resource. 

Three of the four batteries, whose composition 
has been described, were ordered to come at 
once into action against the vastly superior 
Maratha artillery, — a duty which they most 
gallantly performed, constantly advancing to 
closer quarters as the infantry gained ground 
towards Malpur. The fourth battery followed 
the 76th Regiment, in order to take the first 
opportunity of enfilading the Maratha position 
from the right. 

These simple and unconditional orders having 
been explained to all concerned in the quiet 
interval so conveniently afforded by the enemy, 
the right wing of the infantry, headed by Lake 
and General Ware, promptly moved forward, 
moving in an open column of companies, and 
taking advantage of the cover afforded by the 
inequalities of the ground near the bank of the 
Baraki nala. To divert attention from their 
advance the three batteries of light guns opened 
fire, while Colonel Macan, interpreting his orders 
to support the infantry in a liberal spirit, moved 
his British regiment, the 29th Light Dragoons, 
in file along the bed of the nala, close alongside 
the 76th Regiment, which as usual led the right 
wing. The advance of the 76th, owing to the 


cover afforded by broken ground and long grass, 
was for a short time unseen by the Marathas, 
but as soon as the British regiment came clearly 
into view every gun opened on them and quickly 
caused many casualties in their ranks. The 
distance to be traversed before an attack could 
be attempted was about a mile ; but undeterred 
by their losses, and the certainty of the storm 
that would burst upon them whenever they 
attempted to form up for attack, the 76 th 
pressed doggedly on, closely followed by the 
battery and by the leading native battalions 
of the right wing. These were headed by the 
five companies of the 16 th Native Infantry, 
under Lieut. - Colonel White, which had done 
such distinguished service in the capture of 
Agra. The 16th were followed by the 2nd 
Battalion 12th, the old "Lai Pultan" (red 
regiment) of Plassy, the first Bengal regiment 
to wear the colour of England. Their com- 
mander at Laswari and throughout the cam- 
paign was Major Robert Gregory, a most 
gallant soldier. After the 12th came the two 
battalions of the 15th Native Infantry. All 
showed the greatest possible zeal in pressing 
forward to support the 76th. 

Seeing that the fire of his artillery failed 
to check the British advance, the Maratha 

236 LASWARl. 

general now threw back the right flank of each 
of his lines of infantry, thus showing a new 
front towards the nala, the point from which it 
was evident that he would shortly be attacked. 
This movement was performed with a steadiness 
which spoke highly for the training and dis- 
cipline of the Maratha infantry/ 

As the 76th approached the Maratha position, 
the battery which followed it found suitable 
ground near the nala from which to open an 
enfilading fire on the front line of the Marathas. 
This proved very effective, but the place selected 
was unfortunately immediately in front of the 
narrow space on which the 29th Light Dragoons 
were crowded together in readiness to assist the 
76th. The fire of the Maratha artillery, drawn 
by the British battery, feU heavily on the 29th, 
for, although they were screened from the 
view of the Maratha gunners, shots constantly 
ploughed through the crowded ranks of the 
Dragoons with fatal effect. The 29th, however, 
knowing that it was essential that they should 
hold their ground, bore their losses stoically. 
Among those killed in this place was Major 
Griffiths, commanding the regiment, whose 

' It is an interesting coincidence that the Maratha armj 
defeated at Aasaye by General Wellesley also effected a change 
of front during the battle, — an achievement of which native 
armies were previously considered incapable. 

THE 76th attack SINGLE-HANDED. 237 

services in the first phase of the battle, when 
in command of the advanced guard, will be 
remembered. The command of the 29th now 
devolved on Captain Wade. 

Lake, who as usual was in the thickest of 
the fight, seeing the severity of the Maratha 
artillery fire, now determined to attack with 
his leading troops, rather than expose the 29th 
and 76th to the further heavy losses that they 
must have suffered had he waited to deploy 
his whole infantry force. Under his orders, 
therefore, the 76th advanced single-handed to 
the attack, whereupon the Maratha guns opened 
so terrible a fire of canister on them as to 
check even their advance, which ceased at a 
point outside the village where a mosque 
afforded them cover. At the same moment 
Abaji, who had shown his ability as a com- 
mander by the skill with which he had pre- 
viously changed his front, gave further proof 
of his ability by a well - timed order to his 
cavalry to charge the 76th in flank. Had this 
order been obeyed with spirit, it is not too 
much to say that the 76th would have been 
destroyed and Laswari would not have been a 
British victory. The Maratha cavalry were, 
fortunately, the weak element in their army. 
Their charge was feeble, and was easily repulsed 

238 LAS W AM. 

by the fire of the 76th. The Maratha horse, 
however, though checked and driven back, 
raUied at a short distance and showed some 
signs of intending to repeat their charge. The 
situation was still highly critical, and Lake 
ordered the 29th Light Dragoons to advance 
along the rear of the 76th, form up beyond 
them, and break the Maratha infantry. 

So unfavourable was the ground that the 29th 
were still compelled to move in file ; but in no 
way daunted, they dashed forward in the most 
spirited manner and formed up on the left of 
the 76th. As they came up the Dragoons were 
heartily cheered by the men of the 76th, and 
the 29th as heartily cheered in response. 
Rapidly forming line, the 29th charged without 
the delay of a moment, and broke through both 
lines of the Marathas. 

The Native Infantry regiments of the right 
wing were now coming up, and the two leading 
battalions quickly forming line, were led for- 
ward by Lake to reinforce the 76 th, and with 
them follow up the advantage gained by the 
charge of the 29th. The crisis was, however, 
still acute, the Marathas standing valiantly to 
their guns, pouring a concentrated artillery and 
infantry fire on the two battalions, and facing 
their charge, bayonet to bayonet. During the 

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single-handed rush of the 76th there had been 
many casualties both in that regiment and 
among the headquarter staff. Major - General 
Ware was dead, his head having been carried 
off by a round-shot ; Campbell and Duval, two 
of Lake's staff, had also been killed ; Colonel 
Macdonald^ had been severely wounded, but 
remained in action, and took General Ware's 
place during the rest of the day. Lake him- 
self had his charger killed under him, and 
George Lake was dangerously wounded by a 
round-shot while giving his own horse to his 

Not a moment was to be lost. Lake was 
instantly in the saddle, and leaving his son 
apparently dying on the ground, galloped back 
to the 12th Native Infantry, steadily yet 
quickly coming forward under their gallant 
commanding officer, and led them up on the 
right of the 76th ; then, returning once more, 
he in like manner brought the 16th Native 
Infantry also into line. 

Cheered on by Lake, Macdonald, White, 
M'Leod, Gregory, and their other officers, the 
wing hurled themselves against the Marathas, 

1 Colonel Macdonald, at this time Adjutant-Greneral at Army 
Headquarters, was a cadet of 1766. He rose to the rank of 
Lieutenant-General, became a K.C.B., and died at Calcutta in 


burst through the gaps in their lines made 
by the charge of the 29th, and attacked the 
village of Malpur with a fury that none could 
resist. Meanwhile the 29th Light Dragoons, 
turning on the Maratha horse, drove them 
clean off the field, and then, quickly returning, 
fell upon the rear of the infantry, thus render- 
ing essential aid to the British attack. 

The struggle in and around Malpur lasted 
until four o'clock in the afternoon, by which time 
all the Maratha guns had been taken, and the 
right wing of their infantry had been destroyed 
almost to a man. The left wing preserved its 
formation throughout this long trial, and seeing 
that the day was lost, now endeavoured to re- 
treat in good order. This movement gave the 
desired opportunity to Colonel John Vandeleur 
and the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, who broke into 
the Maratha column and captured 2000 prisoners 
and all the baggage of their army. 

Abaji, the commander-in-chief, whose disposi- 
tions had been so able throughout the day, now 
exchanged for a swift horse the elephant on 
which, according to the custom of Indian 
armies, he had been mounted, and was thus 
enabled to escape from the exhausted British 
cavalry. His name appears no more in history. 
The destruction of his army was practically 


complete, for the carnage about Malpur had 
been terrible. The total of the Maratha losses 
was never known, but the dead and severely 
wounded left on the field, most of whom perished 
there, were estimated at not less than 7000 men. 
The army created by De Boigne and Perron 
was defeated but not disgraced ; indeed, to have 
fought as bravely and doggedly as they did, 
against Lake's heroic troops under his brilliant 
leadership, reflected the highest honour on the 
Marathas. No one realised their quality more 
fully than Lake himself; and Skinner states 
in his Memoirs that when, at the end of the 
battle, Lake was cheered by his troops, he 
" took off his hat and thanked them, but told 
them to despise Death, as those brave fellows 
had done, pointing to the Marathas who were 
lying thick about their guns." 

In achieving their triumph, the British army 
sustained very heavy losses. The killed and 
wounded numbered 822, out of a total force on 
the ground of about 8000 men. In the 76th 
Regiment and the Native Infantry of the 
right wing, who bore the brunt of the second 
phase of the battle, the losses were very heavy 
indeed. The British cavalry regiments also 
suffered severely. The casualties in the 8 th 
Light Dragoons have already been mentioned, 



and the 29th suffered yet more heavily, losing 
19 kUled, 5 of whom were officers, and 43 
wounded, of whom 3 were officers. The 27th 
Light Dragoons, though only employed in the 
last phase of the battle, came off but little 
more easily. The casualties among horses were 
extraordinarily heavy, 277 being killed, 154 
wounded, and 122 missing. 

The physical endurance shown by Lake's 
army at Laswari deserves record. The cavalry, 
after marching forty -two miles in less than 
twenty-four hours, were so hotly engaged from 
sunrise to sunset that the horses could not be 
watered or fed for twenty hours. Yet more 
remarkable was the achievement of the in- 
fantry, who went into action after covering 
sixty-five miles in forty-eight hours. 

General Lake's personal share in this bloody 
struggle was a remarkable one. In the first 
phase of the battle he shared the dangers of 
the cavalry, and in the second phase he headed 
the 76th in their advance and in every charge 
made by them in the long -sustained fight at 
close quarters about Malpur. He also suc- 
cessively headed the 12th and 16th Native 
Infantry, the two regiments that came so 
staunchly to the assistance of the 76th at a 
moment when the issue of the battle trembled 


in the balance. During the critical period 
when the 29th Light Dragoons were forming 
at a gallop on the left of the 76th, prior 
to the attack on Malpur, Lake's horse, "Old 
Port," the gift of Lord Wellesley, which 
had received several wounds, fell dead under 
him. His gallant son. Major George Lake, as 
at the battle of Delhi, at once dismounted and 
gave up his own charger to his father. Lake 
at first refused this offer, fearing from the 
proximity of the enemy that his son's self- 
sacrifice might cost him his life. After some 
entreaty the General accepted the horse, and 
Major Lake, obtaining another mount, was 
soon again in the saddle. At this moment 
George Lake was severely wounded by a 
round-shot, and his father was compelled to 
leave him lying on the ground, hardly ex- 
pecting again to see him living.^ 

General Lake, among numberless escapes, 
was fired at by a Maratha sepoy, who actually 
placed the muzzle of his firelock against the 
General's side as he fired. Lake's life was, 
however, saved by his accidentally turning in 
another direction, for he had not seen his 

1 Major Lake, a most promising soldier, recovered from this 
wound, but fell in action when lieutenant - colonel of the 29th 
Regiment, at the battle of Ko^a, in the Peninsular War, August 
17, 1808. 


assailant. His escape was so narrow that his 
coat was burnt by the explosion of the charge. 
At Laswari, however, Lake showed himself 
much more than a mere fighting general. In 
this battle he showed, perhaps more con- 
spicuously than on any other occasion in his 
long career, his qualities as a leader of men. 
At Laswari were fully displayed his calmness 
in danger, his self-reliance, and his power of 
commanding the confidence of his troops. If 
the narrative of this desperate struggle has 
conveyed any true idea of its nature to the 
reader, he will have understood the remarkable 
qualities of Lake, which carried him triumph- 
antly over obstacles that no other English 
soldier of the period, save Arthur Wellesley, 
could have surmounted. It was with reference 
to Laswari that Malleson wrote of Lake : " He 
was never so great as on the battle-field. He 
could think more clearly under the roar of battle 
than in the calmness and quiet of his tent. In 
this respect he resembled Clive. It was this 
quality which enabled him to dare the almost im- 
possible. That which in others would have been 
rash, in Lake was prudent daring." Laswari 
was the turning-point of the campaign against 
Sindhia and his allies. Assaye had already been 


fought and had ruined the hopes of the Mar- 
atha confederacy in the south, but Sindhia was 
still paramount in the vast countries north of 
the Vindhayan range until the decisive defeat 
of his sole remaining army at Laswari shattered 
his power. Twenty days later Argaum was 
fought by Arthur Wellesley; but that action 
was a mere rout, and the Maratha troops en- 
gaged in it were defeated before they fought. 
Laswari had taken the fighting stuff out of 
every man in the Maratha dominions. It was 
one of the decisive battles of India, and it 
decided the course of the Maratha War. 

The losses among officers were, as usual, 
abnormally heavy, in Lake's staff alone two 
being killed and four wounded. Captain Thorn's 
casualty roll, which is incomplete, gives the 
names of 15 officers killed and 26 wounded. 

The highest in rank of those who fell, Major- 
General Ware was sixty years of age, and had 
served forty - one years in India. He was a 
brave officer, who had frequently distinguished 
himself in action, and he had been wounded 
at the battle of Delhi. The story is told that, 
early in life. Ware had saved a sum of money, 
which was embezzled by a treacherous friend 
to whom he had remitted it. Ware thereupon 


vowed that he would never save another penny, 
and acted up to his word. He was considered 
the most hospitable man in Bengal. 

As regards the distribution of losses in the 
infantry, the 76th held a sad pre-eminence. 
Their casualties numbered 170, of whom 43, 
including 2 officers, were killed. Of the Native 
Infantry, the 2nd Battalion 12th sustained 101 
casualties, and the six companies of the 16th 
had no less than 87. They were the two first 
regiments to come up to the assistance of the 
76th, and the conduct of both was admirable. 
Major Gregory, who led his battalion in fine 
style, was severely wounded in the head and 
had his horse shot under him, and Lieut. - 
Colonel White was also wounded at the head 
of the 16th. 

The foregoing account of the battle of Laswari 
is based to so considerable an extent on Lake's 
despatch and letter announcing his victory to 
the Governor-General, that, to avoid repetition, 
those passages from them alone follow in which 
the Commander - in - Chief awards special dis- 
tinction to corps or individuals. With regard 
to the first phase of the battle, General Lake 
offered his " best thanks and acknowledgments " 
to aU the cavalry for the intrepidity and courage 


displayed. Lieutenants Wallace and Dickson, 
and the men who served under them with the 
galloper guns, are selected for special praise. 
In the second phase. Colonel Macan and his 
brigade, consisting of the 29th Light Dragoons 
and 4th Native Cavalry, receive an expression 
of the Commander - in - Chief's warmest thanks 
and gratitude for their conspicuous gallantry, 
Colonel Macan, Captain Wade, and Captain 
Elliot of this the 3rd Brigade alone being 
mentioned by name. General Lake also de- 
plores the death of Colonel Vandeleur, " a most 
valued officer." Of the infantry, Major M'Leod, 
Captain Robertson, and the officers and men 
of the 76th Regiment are thanked in similar 
terms. General Lake in his despatch speaking 
of the regiment as a " handful of heroes," and 
adding this glowing testimony to their conduct : 
" On this, as on every former occasion. His 
Excellency beheld with admiration the heroic 
behaviour of the 76th Regiment, whose gallantry 
must ever leave a lasting impression of grati- 
tude on his mind." Of the Native Infantry, 
the detachment of the 16th Regiment and 
the 2nd Battalion 12th are singled out for 
thanks " for their timely and gallant support 
of the 76th." The officers mentioned by name 


are Colonel Macdonald, Lieut. -Colonel White, 
and Major Gregory.^ 

General Lake again foUows his rule of thank- 
ing his staff as a body, saying that their zeal 
at Laswari was but too plainly shown by 
the returns of killed and wounded. The only 
officers of the staff mentioned by name were 
Major- General Ware ("a gallant officer, and 
one whose loss I deeply lament"), Major 
William Campbell, Deputy Quartermaster- 
General, and Lieutenant Duval, 19th Light 
Dragoons, aide-de-camp, all of whom were 
killed. In conveying General Lake's thanks 
to the cavalry, Colonel Macan added an 
honourable mention by himself of Surgeons Lyss 
and Newman, of the 29th Light Dragoons, 
for their services to the wounded at the 
greatest personal risk to themselves. 

The night following the battle of Laswari 
was a very trying one to the exhausted troops. 
The plain on which the army lay was thickly 
covered with the bodies of the dead, and on 
all sides could be heard the groans of the 
wounded and dying, for whose assistance but 
scanty resources were at hand. From time 
to time the air was rent by loud explosions 

* Major B. B. Gregory attained the rank of Major-General in 
1819 and received the C.B. He died at Benares in 1824. 


as the flames from the burning village of 
Malpur caught powder-magazines and tumbrils 
of ammunition. To crown the sufferings of 
the troops, a fiirious hurricane came on at 

On the following morning (November 2) 
General Lake, though still much exhausted 
and depressed after his violent exertions of 
the previous day, and on account of his anxiety 
on behalf of his son, wrote the following inter- 
esting letter to Lord Wellesley, which gives a 
vivid picture of the remarkable efficiency of 
the Maratha army which he had been able 
to destroy. 

Marked [Secret], 
Camp, Laswari, November 2, 1803. 

I sent you last night an account of our having at 
length completed the defeat of all the force belonging 
to Perron or Scindiah on this side India, which has been 
effected by great fatigue, difficulty, and severe loss. 
However, it was an object of such importance to destroy 
these battalions effectually that I felt it incumbent 
upon me to use every exertion in my power. . . . Had 
it been delayed one hour longer they would have 
escaped entirely. . . . These battalions were most 
uncommonly well appointed, had a most numerous 
artillery, as well served as they can possibly be, the 
gunners standing to their guns until killed by the 
bayonet. All the sepoys of the enemy behaved exceed- 
ingly well, and if they had been commanded by French 
officers the event would have been, I fear, extremely 
doubtful. I never was in so severe a business in my 

250 LASWAM. 

life or anything like it, and pray to God I never may 
be in such a situation again. Their army is better 
appointed than ours — no expense is spared whatever. 
They have three times the number of men to a gun 
we have ; their bullocks, of which they have many more 
than we have, are of a very superior sort; all their 
men's knapsacks and baggage are carried upon camels, 
by which means they can march double the distance. 
We have taken all their bazaar, baggage, and every- 
thing belonging to them ; an amazing number of them 
were killed — indeed the victory has been decisive. The 
action of yesterday has convinced me how impossible 
it is to do anything without British troops, and of 
them there ought to be a very great proportion. The 
returns of yesterday will, I fear, prove the necessity of 
what I say too fully. I could not write you, my dear 
lord, the various occurrences of the week — the wound 
of my dear son rendered me totally unfit for anything ; 
but I thank God his wound is less severe than I at first 
believed. When I first saw him upon receiving it, it 
almost unmanned me, but the alarming crisis when it 
happened obliged me to quit him and look to the troops, 
who at that time wanted every assistance I could give 
them. We fortunately succeeded in carrying our point, 
by which means I think we shall have destroyed all 
the force that can now oppose us. I think, without 
exception, yesterday was the most anxious day I ever 
experienced, for had we been beaten by these brigades 
the consequences attending such a defeat must have 
been most fatal. These fellows fought like devils, or 
rather heroes, and had we not made a disposition to 
attack in a style that we should have done against the 
most formidable army we could have been opposed to, 
I verily believe, from the position they had taken, we 
might have failed. As it is, I feel happy in having 
accomplished all your wishes, except Gwalior, which 
I trust we shall get possession of by treaty with 


Ambajee.^ The fall of these brigades will bring him to 
terms immediately, and wUl have an effect upon all the 
different Eajahs who have been looking very much to 
the proceedings of them, and I suspect many were 
encouraging them to stand out for some time, and gave 
them hopes of assistance if they did not absolutely 
give it them. 

I feel great satisfaction that my son is going on 
well, has no fever, and no doubt of his having the use 
of his knee. I fear it will be impossible for me to 
send this evening a detailed account of the action, but 
hope to be able to send it off to-morrow very early. 

I do not think it will be possible for me to move 
from hence before the 5th on account of my wounded 
men, and other circumstances; I shall then turn 
towards Gwalior, in order to arrange matters with 
Ambajee. I will let you know more of my motions 
instantly, and remain ever, my dear lord, with un- 
feigned and sincere attachment, your devoted servant, 

G. Lake. 

General Lake's anticipation of being able 
to march on November 5 was not fulfilled. 
He found that the destruction of the Maratha 
army was even more complete than he had 
thought, and that there was not anywhere in 
the field against him a formed body of troops. 
In these circumstances he was enabled to halt 
at Laswari until November 8, by which time 
the air had become unfit to breathe from 

^ Ambaji Inglia, the Maratha chief who had succeeded General 
Perron in command of Sindhia's army — not to be confused with 
Abaji, who commanded at Laswari. 


the great number of dead bodies of men and 
animals lying about. The army then marched 
in a leisurely manner towards Pahesar, a 
village thirteen miles west of Bhartpur, arriv- 
ing there on November 14. Here a halt of 
twelve days was made, and the sick and 
wounded, together with 71 of the guns cap- 
tured at Laswari, were sent to Agra. In 
addition to the guns, the trophies included 
44 stand of colours and 5000 stand of arms. 
The victory had, as Lake anticipated in his 
letter to the Governor-General, an immediate 
effect on the native princes of Hindustan. 
The adhesion of the Baja of Bhartpur has 
already been recorded. During the halt at 
Pahesar treaties were concluded with the 
Bajas of Alwar, Jaipur, and Jodhpur, powerful 
Rajput chiefs, and with the Begum Sumru, 
a lady who during the great anarchy in Hin- 
dustan, now drawing to its close, had risen 
from the status of a dancing- girl to that of 
a ruling chief, owning a small but highly 
efficient army. There is a well - known story 
that, on the arrival of the Begum in the 
British camp, Lake, who was dining with his 
staff, and may perhaps have had a glass of 
the " exhilarating shiraz," received her with a 
hearty embrace. The Begum, with great tact, 


turned to her attendants and said, " It is the 
greeting of a Padr^ to his daughter ! " 

On November 27 the army marched to 
Halena on the Banganga, and there received 
some welcome reinforcements of Europeans. 
These consisted of the flank companies of the 
1st Bengal European Regiment, and those 
men of the three British cavalry regiments 
who had been invalided to Cawnpore and Agra 
during the campaign from wounds or sickness. 
There were now with the army a large number 
of dragoons for whom there were no horses, 
and they were formed into a temporary bat- 
talion of infantry, under the command of 
Lieut. -Colonel M'Leod of the 76th. The army 
halted at Halena until December 7, during 
which period General Lake received the fol- 
lowing letter of thanks for his services at 
Laswari : — 

Bakrackfobe, November 18, 1803. 

My dear Sir, — My last private letter was written 
tinder the supposition that the fall of Agra had termin- 
ated your difficulties and dangers, and finally crowned 
your honours in this campaign; but your despatch con- 
taining the recital of the glorious and most decisive 
victory of the 1st of November afforded a new cause 
of my admiration and gratitude, and has opened a fresh 
source of honour for you and your army. I certainly 
expected that the force collected near Agra would give 
you some trouble, but I was not prepared for an action 

254 LA8WARI. 

SO splendid, nor for so formidable an opposition. Your 
judgment in pursuing this force meets my cordial appro- 
bation. Your apprehensions for the safety of Delhi were 
most wise and just ; but even if Delhi had been safe, it 
would have been necessary to destroy this force before 
you proceeded further to the southward. The action is 
one of the most brilliant of which I have ever read the 
relation. Your personal exertions in it surpass all praise, 
all example, and all honour and glory acquired by any 
commander of an army whose actions have reached my 
knowledge. Your safety in the midst of such perils 
reminds me of Lord Duncan's private account of the 
battle of Camperdown, in which, describing his own 
situation in the midst of the general slaughter, he said, 
" God covered my head in the day of battle." The dread- 
ful and distracting event of your heroic son's wound in 
your presence in the heat of action, and in the most 
urgent and critical moment of your own public duty, 
was such a trial as Heaven has seldom given to human 
fortitude. The mere emotion of natural affection would 
have rendered this trial almost insupportable to any 
parent; but in addition to the ties of blood, your son 
possesses your confidence and respect; in his danger 
you must have felt at once that you were exposed to 
the loss of your dearest relation, of your best officer, of 
the true image of your own courage and military spirit, 
of him who had been your firmest support in all your 
recent difficulties and dangers, and in whom you must 
have contemplated the surest pledge of transmitting to 
later times a just memorial of your own fame. No scene 
equal to this trial ever was presented to my imagination, 
nor do I believe it is to be paralleled in all history. 
With such parental affection as I know you to possess, 
and with such just sentiments as you entertain of your 
son's merits and high promise, I declare to you solemnly 
that your resolution under such a blow, your instant 
return to the attack of the enemy, and the alacrity and 


ardour with which you prosecuted the glorious victory 
of that day, constituted such a variety of extraordinary 
and affecting circumstances that I could not command 
strength of mind to read your letter in public. May 
you never again be subjected to so excruciating a pang, 
and may the same Providence (that has suffered your 
gallant son to be wounded on the field of battle before 
the eyes of his father, and has rescued him from death, 
and even from injury, to enhance the joys of his father's 
triumphs) preserve him to emulate his father's example 
and to secure a succession of hereditary glory to his 
family, and of victory and fame to his country. 

It is impossible not to suffer severe grief in reading 
the sad list of the killed and wounded on the 1st of 
November. The names of Vandeleur and of poor 
Griffith affected me most in the list of killed, the former 
on account of his high professional character, and the 
latter on account of my long acquaintance with him. The 
loss, however, is not great when compared with the force 
and artillery opposed to us, and it appears to be of still 
inferior magnitude when compared with the brilliancy 
of the action, and with its solid and substantial benefit 
to the common cause. The impression made by the 
glory of that day, and above all, my dear sir, I must 
say, by your conduct in it, surpasses all imagination. 

I am now employed iu despatching Colonel Nicholson, 
who I hope will be liberated in three or four days. I 
am highly pleased with him ; he takes charge of my de- 
spatches, of which I will send copies to you immediately. 

I write to you by Major-General Fraser, most sincerely 
congratulating you on this last unexpected and unrivalled 
success, and hoping that your danger is at an end. — I 
remain, my dear sir, with the greatest attachment and 
respect, &c., Welleslby. 

P^. — I grieve for the loss of my poor friend " Old 
Port." I have lately received some fine horses from 


Arabia, one, if not two, of which I hope will be ser- 
viceable to you. I shall immediately endeavour to send 
one to you. W. 

This cordial, even affectionate, letter requires 
no comment. It touched the warm heart of 
Lake, and elicited the following grateful reply : — 

Caup, Halenah, December 3, 1803. 

My deae Lord, — Your letter of the 18 th, so full of 
friendship and affection, added to all the kindness I have 
already received from you, renders me a complete bank- 
rupt in words to express the sensations which warm my 
heart with every tie of attachment and gratitude to you, 
my dear lord, for the various marks of esteem and confi- 
dence so repeatedly manifested towards me, and which 
nothing but death can ever eradicate from my mind. 
Your noble and feeling expressions respecting my son, 
while they afford me the most lively sensations of venera- 
tion and regard, call to my recollection what indeed can 
never be forgot — the pang I felt at the moment I saw 
him wounded ; and believe me, I feel most truly thank- 
ful to the Almighty for sparing his life, and, if possible, 
still more particularly so for having granted me fortitude 
sufficient to fulfil at that moment the duties of my 
station, a moment most critical — so much so, that in the 
event of any failure the mischief that might have ensued 
is far beyond all calculation. The 1st of November 
1803 will ever remain fresh in my mind for various 
reasons, which cannot now be enumerated : the loss of 
so many brave men and worthy officers I must ever 
most sincerely regret, and have only to look up to that 
Providence with adoration and thanksgiving who, in the 
midst of our most perilous situation, saved so many of 
us to relate the tale and offer up our prayers for His 
mercies vouchsafed unto us. 


I have received your letter by General Fraser, whom 
I was extremely happy to see. The duplicate arrived 
before him, which I will answer in a day or two. — I am, 
my dear lord, with the truest affection and regard, your 
devoted servant, G. Lake. 

On leaving Halena the army marched in a 
leisurely manner towards Biana, on the Gumbhir, 
this place having been chosen as a winter camp 
as a suitable base from which to guard the 
Rajput states from an attack, which now ap- 
peared possible on the part of Holkar. 

It may be mentioned that early in this march 
Eianjit Singh, the Jat Raja of Bhartpur, of 
whom more will be heard later, visited General 
Lake's camp and paid his respects. The Raja 
is described by Thorn as an elderly little man, 
dressed in very plain clothes, but foUowed by 
a large number of attendants. 

During the march also General Lake received 
an address from the officers of the army, ex- 
pressive of the high respect in which they held 
him, and requesting his acceptance from them 
of a service of plate of the value of ,£4000. 
The address and present, both of which were 
customary at the period, were accepted with 
great pleasure by General Lake, and this episode 
may be considered as the last connected with 
the battle of Laswari. The army arrived at 



Biana on December 27, 1803, and remained 
there unmolested until February 9 in the follow- 
ing year. 

In order to complete the narrative of the 
campaign of 1803, we must now turn to the 
operations of the detachment which, it will be 
remembered, was stationed at the opening 
of the campaign at Allahabad. This force, 
under Lieut. -Colonel Peregrine Powell, was in- 
tended to invade Bundelkhand and eventually 
to capture Sindhia's fortresses in that region. 
Colonel Powell marched from Allahabad, under 
Lake's orders, on September 6, and after an 
easy defeat of a force under Shamshir Bahadur, 
Sindhia's local commander, captured Kalpi on 
December 4. Shamshir Bahadur then surren- 
dered, and his example was presently followed 
by the Subadar of Jhansi (ancestor of the 
Bani of Jhansi who was killed in action in 
the Indian Mutiny). 

Sindhia's officers were now all deserting him, 
and among the traitors was Ambaji Inglia, who 
engaged to surrender Gwalior, Sindhia's most 
important fortress. General Lake consequently 
detached a force from the main army to take 
over charge of Gwalior, selecting as its com- 
mander Lieut. - Colonel White of the 16th 
Native Infantry, who was not incapacitated 


from duty by a grape-shot wound received at 
Laswari, and, by his services throughout the 
campaign, had shown himself fitted for an in- 
dependent command. 

White, who was given the rank of Brigadier- 
General, arrived before Gwalior about December 
23, but on summoning the Killadar or fort- 
commandant to surrender his charge, the latter 
refused to comply with the orders of Ambaji 
Inglia. General Lake promptly reinforced 
White's force, bringing it up to four and a 
half battalions of Native Infantry, a battalion 
formed of the flank companies of the 22nd 
Kegiment and the Bengal European Regiment 
under Major M'Leod of the 76th Regiment, and 
some heavy guns manned by a company of 
European artillerymen. 

Gwalior was a fortress of immense strength, 
constructed on a rock which rises abruptly out 
of the plain to a height of 300 feet. A great 
part of the perimeter, which has a total length 
of nearly five miles, is absolutely inaccessible. 

Nothing daunted. White at once opened a 
regular attack on the fortress, and by Febru- 
ary 4, 1804, had made a practicable breach in 
the wall. The garrison then made terms of 
surrender, and Gwalior was evacuated on 
February 5. A highly complimentary order 


was issued on the occasion by General Lake, 
and it is to be noted that the services of 
Captain Wood, the senior engineer officer, re- 
ceived special mention. 

The capture of Gwalior took place several 
weeks after the official end of the campaign 
against Sindhia and the Baja of Berar, for a 
treaty of peace had been signed by those 
princes on December 30, 1803. It was, how- 
ever, already evident that the end of the war 
was yet far off. 




Towards the end of the campaign against 
Sindhia and the Eaja of Berar, it had become 
clear to Lord Wellesley that Holkar was un- 
likely to refrain much longer from hostilities. 

Holkar had, in fact, been swayed throughout 
the campaign by two conflicting motives, — his 
desire to overwhelm the British, which impelled 
him to an alliance with Sindhia and the Bhonsla, 
and his fear of assisting Sindhia to become the 
chief power in India. Finally his jealousy and 
distrust of Sindhia proved stronger than his 
hatred of the British, and Holkar stood by in- 
active while Lake and Arthur Wellesley crushed 
the confederacy which his aid might have ren- 
dered too powerful for them. 

Laswari and Assaye freed the hands of Lord 
Wellesley as they never had been free from the 
day of his assuming the office of Governor- 
General ; yet his two armies were widely 


separated, and both were much diminished in 
strength from the arduous campaign then ap- 
proaching its close, and Holkar judged that the 
time had come for him to enter the field. 

He had, from the position of his dominions, 
freedom of choice as to his point of attack, and 
Lake's army being not only much weaker than 
that of Arthur Wellesley, but easier to cut off 
from its base, it was against Lake that Holkar 
decided to move. 

One of the first signs of Holkar's definite 
decision to defy the British was his cruel 
murder of three Anglo-Indian officers who had 
done good service for him in past wars, but 
now refused to serve against their countrymen. 
After this atrocity Holkar moved northward 
from Indore, his capital, and threatened the 
dominions of the Kajput Baja of Jaipxir, the 
hereditary enemy of the Maratha princes, and 
now a tributary of the British. In this inten- 
tion Holkar was frustrated by the movements 
of Lake, who after the battle of Laswari 
marched, as has been stated, to Biana, where 
he was conveniently situated to guard both the 
Rajput states and the way towards the British 
frontier. Jaipur being thus denied to him, 
Holkar returned southward and plundered Ma- 
hesar, a rich city on the Narbadda. It is said 


that he here obtained no less a sum than 
£1,000,000, and with this treasure at his com- 
mand, and his army swollen by large numbers 
of Sindhia's soldiers, both horse and foot, who 
had flocked to him after the defeat of their 
master, Holkar determined on war with the 

His action was absolutely unprovoked. Lord 
Wellesley had made every effort to avert war, 
sending as late as February 10, 1804, assur- 
ances that Holkar would not be molested so 
long as he would refrain from attacking the 
territory of the Company and its allies. Six 
days later, in reply to an invitation previously 
sent to Holkar by General Lake, envoys ap- 
peared in the Commander-in-Chiefs camp, who 
propounded the Maratha chief's demands. These 
were obviously inadmissible, including the pay- 
ment of tribute to him by the Company, cession 
of territory to which he had no legal claim 
in the Doab and in Bundelkhand, and a guar- 
antee of the territories actually in his pos- 
session, some the property of chiefs under 
British protection. Holkar further demanded 
that a treaty similar to that just concluded 
with Sindhia should be concluded with him. 
The alternative — war — was proferred in the 
following terms : " Friendship requires that. 


keeping in your view the long-existing unan- 
imity between me and the English Company, 
you act according to what my vakeels [envoys] 
shall represent to you ; if not, my country and 
property are upon the saddle of my horse ; and, 
please God, to whatever side the reins of the 
horses of my brave warriors may be turned, 
the whole of the country in that direction 
shall come into my possession." 

Holkar's envoys spoke in a tone correspond- 
ing to that of their master's letter, asserting 
that Holkar had 150,000 horsemen of his own, 
in addition to 40,000 Rohillas who had offered 
to serve him for three years without pay, on 
condition of being allowed to plunder the Com- 
pany's territory. 

General Lake responded to these threats and 
demands with becoming brevity, saying that 
it was not the custom of the English to boast 
of their power, but that, in the event of war, 
Holkar would possibly find that he had over- 
estimated his own strength. The utmost mod- 
eration was, however, still shown, and Holkar 
was given yet more chances of coming to 
terms. Insolent as was his demeanour. Lord 
Wellesley was most anxious to avoid the neces- 
sity of war. Men, horses, supplies, and money 

lake's anxiety. 265 

were all deficient, and the hot weather was 
impending. Lake was as anxious as the 
Governor - General to avert war, and in a 
private letter wrote to him early in April : " If 
Holkar should break into Hindustan he will be 
joined by the E.ohillas. I never was so plagued 
as I am by this devil. We are obliged to 
remain in the field at an enormous cost. If 
we retire he wiU come down upon Jaipur and 
exact a crore (£1,000,000) from the Rajja, and 
then pay his army and render it more formid- 
able than ever. If I advance and leave an 
opening, he will give me the slip, and get 
into our territories with his horse, and burn 
and destroy." 

Lord Wellesley now became convinced that 
war could not be averted, and entered into 
consultation with Lake and Arthur WeUesley 
as |to the best manner of engaging Holkar. 
Arthur Wellesley was unable to offer a very 
active co-operation. He was at the head of 
a large force in the Deccan, but there had 
been a famine in that part of India, and for 
the moment he could not move. He engaged, 
however, as soon as rain should have supplied 
him with grass and grain for his army, to oc- 
cupy Holkar's possessions in his vicinity. The 


force in Gujarat, under Colonel Murray, was 
immediately available, and was now encamped 
about seventy mUes north of Baroda. 

Arthur Wellesley therefore suggested that 
the principal advance should be made from 
the north by Lake, that Sindhia should be 
called upon to join in with it and to supply 
a strong contingent of cavalry, and should 
also furnish cavalry for Murray, whose force 
was sufficiently strong in infantry. Thus 
strengthened, Murray could advance to Indore, 
while Lake, with the assistance of Sindhia's 
horse, drove Holkar back from the north. If, 
however, it was practicable to delay operations 
until after the rains, WeUesley proposed that 
he should then enter Hindustan at the head 
of Murray's force and as much of his own 
army as could be spared from the Deccan. In 
this way, he submitted, Holkar could assuredly 
be crushed. 

It must be remembered that the Governor- 
General, Lake, Arthur Wellesley, and Murray 
were far apart from one another, and that letters 
from one to the other often passed through 
hostile country and sometimes miscarried, and 
that in all cases communications were slow. 
Thus it came about that before he had been 
able to consider the wise proposals of his 


brother, Lord Wellesley had already instructed 
General Lake to commence operations against 
Holkar. At the same time he informed Arthur 
Wellesley of the fact, and directed him to co- 
operate with Lake. 

These orders were issued in the middle of 
April 1804, when Lake was in camp some 
twenty-five miles north-east of Tonk. 

Arthur Wellesley, being unable to move from 
the Deccan, directed Colonel Murray to advance 
from Gujarat in co-operation with the move- 
ments about to be undertaken by Lake ; but, 
as will hereafter be seen, Murray, who was a 
man of undecided character, made but a short 
advance, which he converted into a retirement 
at the moment when his support was most 

When Lake received his orders to attack 
Holkar, the latter had again advanced towards 
Kajputana, and with a part of his army was 
threatening the city of Jaipur. Colonel Monson, 
who had now recovered from the severe wound 
which he sustained at the storming of Aligarh, 
had rejoined the army, and on April 18 Lake 
despatched him, at the head of a detachment 
of three battalions of infantry, to protect that 
city. Monson arrived at Jaipur on April 21, 
whereupon Holkar retired southward. On April 


27 Lake also advanced with his main body, 
and on May 8 was at Nawai, fifteen miles 
north-east of Tonk. 

From this place he despatched a second de- 
tachment,^ consisting of a regiment of cavalry, 
two battalions of infantry, and some guns, 
against Rampura, a Rajput town in the posses- 
sion of Holkar, situated sixty miles south-east 
of Jaipur. This detachment was commanded 
by Lieut. - Colonel Patrick Don, an excellent 
officer of the Bengal army, who had served 
during the early part of the war in Bundel- 
khand under Lieut. - Colonel Powell. Don, 
who had no means of undertaking a regular 
siege, determined to capture Eampura by a 
coup - de - main, and, to avert suspicion from 
his design, encamped on the side of the town 
farthest removed from the principal gateway, 
which he intended to attack. At 2 a.m. on 
May 15, Don marched from his camp at the 
head of eight picked companies of infantry, 
with one 12 - pounder ; while a covering 
party, consisting of three companies with the 
five remaining guns, followed in rear. The 
cavalry were left in camp until their services 
should be required. 

' 3rd Bengal Cavalry, 2nd Battalion 8tb, 2nd Battalion 21st, two 
12- pounders, and four 6-pounders. 


Colonel Don and his detachment marched 
rapidly and silently round the town towards 
the gateway, making no reply to the ill-aimed 
fire directed on them from the ramparts. On 
reaching the gateway Don brought up his 
12-pounder and quickly broke down the gate, 
while his supporting infantry poured an effective 
fire on the garrison as they crowded the ram- 
parts near the point of attack. Rampura, like 
Aligarh, was defended by four successive gates. 
The storming - party found the second gate 
open, it being out of repair, and the third and 
fourth were quickly blown in like the first. 
Don's force now prepared to attack the fort, 
before the gate of which they had arrived 
through the town, but the garrison had lost 
heart and endeavoured to escape. Don's 
stormers, therefore, forced their way without 
difficulty through the gateway of the fort and 
completed the capture. The entire garrison was 
then driven out of both town and fort, many 
being cut down by the 3rd Bengal Cavalry, 
who awaited them outside the walls. The 
capture of Rampura was a gallant and well- 
managed affair, and the skill and decision shown 
by Lieut. -Colonel Don and his detachment were 
highly eulogised by Greneral Lake. 

The loss of Rampura completed the dis- 


comfiture of Holkar, who made a further 
retirement into his territories south of the 
river Chambal. The heat was now very great, 
and was severely trying the European portion 
of Lake's army, who had now been for a 
considerable time exposed to the weather and 
showed need of shelter. Holkar was so far re- 
moved from regions whence he could threaten 
British territory that no action on his part 
appeared probable before the end of the hot 
weather. Lake saw also that no movement 
from the north was likely to be effective in 
bringing Holkar to a decisive action, and that 
it would be better to wait until after the rains, 
when a combined operation, as suggested by 
Arthur Wellesley, would finish off the war. 

For all these reasons Lake decided to with- 
draw his main army to Agra and Cawnpore, 
placing the Europeans in their barracks at the 
latter station. As a safeguard against any 
possible attempt at mischief on the part of 
Holkar he decided to increase the strength of 
Monson's detachment to five battalions, and to 
call upon Sindhia to furnish it with a large 
contingent of cavalry. With this force, and 
with the strong post of Rampura behind him, 
Monson should be able to hold his ground 
against any force that could be brought against 

monson's detachment. 271 

him until the main army was again ready to 
take the field. Monson unfortunately proved 
to be an incapable though brave and enter- 
prising commander, and a narrative of the 
misfortunes of his detachment has a painful 
interest for us, even after the lapse of a 
century. Its retreat before Holkar was the 
first serious military reverse suffered by British 
arms in India. 

The detachment handed over to Monson was 
of considerable strength, and, as regards the 
artillery and infantry, of excellent quality. 
The infantry battalions (2nd Battalion 2nd, 
1st and 2nd Battalions 12th, 2nd Battalion 
21st, notwithstanding the very short service of 
the last-named corps) were among the finest in 
the Bengal army, and were presently joined by 
the 2nd Battalion 8th fi-om Rampura under 
their distinguished commanding officer, Lieut. - 
Colonel Don. A company of European ar- 
tillerymen manned the two 12 -pounders and 
ten 6 -pounders with the force, and there were 
in addition six galloper guns to serve with the 
irregular horse. With these artillerymen was 
Captain -Lieutenant Wimbolt, the officer whose 
services at Shikohabad have been mentioned, 
now released from his obligation not to serve 
in the field, Sindiah being no longer the enemy. 


The weak spot in the detachment was the 
doubtful quality of a portion of the irregular 
horse, composed of recently raised irregular 
corps, and of small contingents from various 
native states, loosely organised and inad- 
equately trained. The strength of this arm 
was about 3000 men, under the command of 
Lieutenant Lucan, 74th Regiment, of whom we 
have heard so much in the course of this 

Leaving Monson with his detachment near 
Jaipur, and merely giving him general in- 
structions to guard against any move on the 
part of Holkar, General Lake started on May 
18 for his march of 140 miles to Agra, The 
heat was now almost unendurable in the open, 
and the Europeans and natives alike suffered 
terribly from the hot winds, which can only 
be compared to the blast of a furnace. Many 
brave fellows who had survived the battles of 
Delhi, Agra, and Laswari died in this fearful 
march. On May 30 nineteen Europeans perished 
in the four weak regiments with the main 
army (the three dragoon regiments and the 
76th), and an even greater number on June 2. 
On the latter day no less than 250 camp- 
followers are said to have died. At last the 
infantry marched into Agra and found shelter 


on June 7, and the cavalry arrived at Cawn- 
pore thirteen days^ater. 

No sooner had the main army started on its 
return march than things began to go wrong 
with the detachments. The first misfortune 
occurred early in May in Bundelkhand. The 
command there had at first been in the com- 
petent hands of Lieut. -Colonel Peregrine Powell, 
but this officer had fallen into ill -health and 
had been compelled to hand over his duties.^ 

His successor, Lieut. - Colonel Fawcett, who 
was in camp at Kunch, sent a detachment of 
seven companies of Native Infantry, with six 
guns, to capture the small fort of Bela, about 
eight miles away. Captain Smith, the officer 
commanding this smaU detachment, unwisely 
subdivided it, and placed two of his companies 
and five guns in the trenches before Bela, while 
the remainder of the detachment was in camp, 
too far distant to support them. The com- 
mandant of Bela lulled Captain Smith into 
carelessness by a pretended surrender, and 
treacherously invited Amir Khan to come to 
his rescue. Amir Khan, a famous freebooter of 

1 Lieut-Colonel Powell, who had served thirty-three years in 
India, and, like so many of the best officers of the Bengal Army, 
had served in the Mysore War under Colonel T. D. Fearse, was 
invalided to England, and never resumed duty. He rose event> 
ually to the rank of Lieutenant-General, and died in 1836. 



the period, who was at the head of a large 
force, and was now in the interest of Holkar, 
fell suddenly upon the unfortunate troops in 
the trenches before Bela, and put them all to 
the sword. Captain Smith had no time to 
come to their rescue, even if he had thought it 
possible, but succeeded in fighting his way 
back to Kunch with the remaining five com- 
panies and one gun. Lieut. - Colonel Fawcett, 
instead of marching to attack Amir Khan, 
whose force, though large, was not formidable, 
lost his head and retired up the river Betwa, 
leaving Bundelkhand open to the enemy. 

Fawcett was removed from his command, and 
Amir Khan's troops soon afterwards sustained 
several reverses at the hands of Fawcett's suc- 
cessor, Lieut. -Colonel Martindell, and his sub- 
ordinates, but Bundelkhand was not finally 
subdued until 1809. 

The afiair at Bela fades, however, into in- 
significance by the side of Monson's disaster. 

That oflBcer, when first left to his own re- 
sources, showed complete confidence, and in 
spite of the great heat evidently intended to 
exhibit activity and enterprise. He moved 
southward, presumably on hearing of Murray's 
abortive advance, and on June 2 was at Kotah, 
when he was joined by Lieut. -Colonel Don with 


the 2nd Battalion 8 th Native Infantry from 
Rampura, and by 1500 Maratha horse under a 
chief named Bapuji Sindhia. Monson now con- 
sidered himself strong enough to enter Holkar's 
territory, and marched through the Mokandara 
Pass and on to the town of Sonara. On 
July 2 he captured by escalade the strong fort 
of Hinglazgarh, — a gallant enterprise executed 
in Monson's best style. The fort was captured 
by the 2nd Battalion 2nd Native Infantry, 
led by their brave commanding officer, Major 
Sinclair, and by Monson himself. Sinclair and 
his battalion remained in garrison at Hin- 
glazgarh, and Monson rejoined his main body. 
So far all had gone well with him, though 
he had latterly experienced difficulty as to 
supplies, and the commencement of the rains 
was making marching more and more difficult. 
Now, however, his troubles were to begin, for 
he simultaneously heard that Colonel Murray, 
instead of advancing from Gujarat to join hands 
with him, was falling back, while Holkar in 
great strength was on the Chambal within forty 
miles of his camp. Monson was now in a most 
critical position, and had to make an immediate 
choice between an attack on the vastly superior 
force of Holkar and a difficult and dangerous 
retirement. Monson's full reasons for not fight- 


ing are unknown, for it does not appear that 
he was ever called upon to state them, but he 
elected to retire. His high courage would 
certainly have led him to attack Holkar, had 
he thought it possible to bring him to decisive 
action, and he probably thought that after a 
running fight with Holkar's force, which was 
more mobile and fresher than his own, he 
would still have been compelled to retreat, and 
would have been in even worse condition to 
do so. 

Monson's retreat began on July 8, on which 
date his camp was distant thirty miles from the 
Mokandara Pass, and about double that dis- 
tance from Kotah. At four in the morning 
Monson despatched his baggage and stores 
towards Sonara, the halting-place between his 
position and the Pass, and kept his force formed 
up and ready for action until eleven o'clock 
anticipating an attack by Holkar. 

None came ; so Monson, ordering his mounted 
troops under Lucan and Bapuji Sindhia to 
follow him half an hour later, marched off 
northward after his baggage. Monson's troops 
then marched nine miles, but saw no more of 
their cavalry, nor did Monson learn for some 
time why Lucan had failed to carry out his 
orders to follow him. Some time before Monson 


reached Sonara, however, Bapuji Sindhia rode 
up unattended and informed him that the 
cavalry had been attacked and defeated with 
heavy loss, and that Lucan was wounded and 
a prisoner. Bapuji, who was a traitor, sub- 
sequently made his escape and openly joined 
Holkar, who gave him a large command. 

James Skinner, who had the best means of 
ascertaining what happened to the unfortunate 
Lucan and his cavalry, states in his memoirs 
that the disaster was thus brought about. 
Lucan had under him nearly 5000 men, with six 
guns. He was extremely anxious to distinguish 
himself in the British service, and when 
Holkar's advanced-guard appeared on the scene 
soon after Monson had marched off, decided to 
try the effect of a bold charge. This might 
well have succeeded had Lucan's troops all 
remained staunch, but Bapuji Sindhia's men at 
once deserted him and joined Holkar's troops. 
This large defection proved fatal. Lucan's own 
men fought bravely, as did two corps of 500 
men each commanded by a Rajput prince. 
Lucan, though wounded early in the fight, made 
a brave resistance, but was finally overcome 
and captured. A great number of his men and 
of the Rajputs, together with their brave and 
loyal chiefs, were put to the sword, and the 


remainder dispersed. The unfortunate Lucan 
was never seen again. He perished at the 
hand of the savage Holkar, either from his 
wounds or by torture or poison. Monson 
arrived at Sonara at 9 p.m., after a march of 
nearly thirty miles. A little later Major Sinclair 
arrived with his battalion (the 2nd of the 2nd 
Native Infantry) from Hinglazgarh, where, it 
will be remembered, he had been left in garrison. 
Sinclair left one company at Hinglazgarh under 
Lieutenant Owen, who was joined by a Lieutenant 
Davidson, who had missed his way while pro- 
ceeding to join his regiment with a convoy of 
ammunition. These two officers were, it is 
stated, soon afterwards betrayed to Holkar, and 
were beheaded by order of Harnat Singh, an 
adopted son of Holkar, at the Bundi Pass. The 
garrison of Hinglazgarh and Davidson's party 
entered Holkar's service under compulsion. 

Monson continued his retreat from Sonara on 
July 9, and reached the Mokandara Pass at 
noon unmolested. This was in itself a strong 
position, but liable to be turned by way of 
another pass some eight or nine miles distant. 
Monson therefore decided to continue his march. 
The southern entrance of the Pass was fortified 
by a strong gateway, with a loopholed parapet 
ascending the hill on either side. Lieut. -Colonel 

monson's retreat. 279 

Don was ordered to hold this gateway with his 
regiment while the rest of the column continued 
its retreat through the Pass. This duty Don 
performed well, assisted by Captain Fetherston, 
who, with two companies of the 12th Native 
Infantry, guarded a ford across a nala in front 
of the Pass. It was night when Lieut. -Colonel 
Don commenced to move off his ground. The 
frequent flashes of lightning were at times the 
only guide along the rugged path, now con- 
verted into a rushing torrent. Having cleared 
his position, Don blocked the gateway with 
heavy stones. A havildar sent to recall Fether- 
ston reported that he had already retired ; but 
Don knew that Fetherston would never have 
left his post without orders, and sent a second 
and more trustworthy messenger. The gateway 
was now securely blocked, and at 2 a.m. on 
July 10 Don began to traverse the defile. It 
was intensely dark : the guns had to be dragged 
over rocks with infinite labour by the light of 
portfires, 500 of which the artillerymen ex- 
pended before morning. The retreat continued 
through the following day, and early on July 
12 the force arrived at Kotah. Here Colonel 
Monson desired to purchase supplies and to 
leave two 12-pounders in charge of the Kaja, 
as the gun-bullocks had suffered much from the 


heavy condition of the ground. The Baja, 
however, not unreasonably refuBed to accept 
the guns, pleading that as Monson intended to 
leave Kotah, he would merely incur the wrath 
of Holkar and be unable to preserve the guns 
from capture. 

Monson left Kotah on July 13, but the 
country was now so boggy that his force could 
only reach the Gamach Ghat (ford), on the 
Chambal river, seven miles away. The river 
was unfordable on the arrival of the detach- 
ment at the Ghat, and although a crossing was 
effected on the 14th, a halt was found necessary 
for the purpose of collecting supplies. 

Monson was ready to march on July 15, but 
the rains rendered it impossible to move the 
guns : no provisions remained, and the only 
course was to spike and abandon the guns. 
This was done at daybreak on the following 
morning, and the ammunition was destroyed. 
The march which followed was of a terrible 
nature, and the sufferings of the troops can 
only be estimated by those acquainted with 
the rains of India. During the day no less 
than fifteen elephants and a large number of 
camels were left actually embedded in the mud, 
and it is recorded that only one small tent 
was pitched that evening in the whole detach- 


ment. The march performed on July 17 was 
of a similar nature, and all the food eaten by 
the troops was a little wheat procured from 
a small village. The European officers and 
gunners bought and killed a wretched buUock 
from the same village, which they cooked as 
best they could. In the afternoon the force 
arrived at the Mej river, a small stream which 
was now found to be 300 feet across and 6 feet 
deep. On the previous day Lieut. Dalton of 
the 12th Native Infantry, who had lost a leg 
at the battle of Laswari, had been drowned at 
this place, which he had reached on his way to 
rejoin his regiment. 

None of the detachment were able to cross 
the Mej on July 18 except the European artillery- 
men, who were ordered by Colonel Monson to 
cross on their remaining elephants and proceed 
to Rampura. The remainder of the detachment 
were compelled to remain where they were for 
eight days, but Holkar was evidently unable to 
take advantage of this favourable opportunity. 
A party of 500 of his horse arrived on July 23 
within eight miles of Monson's camping-ground, 
and Monson at once attacked them. The force 
sent against them consisted of all the flank 
companies of the detachment, commanded by 
Captain O'DonneU. This officer divided his 


force into three parties, and having surrounded 
the Maratha camp under cover of heavy rain, 
charged in and dispersed the horsemen, killing 
forty or fifty of them and capturing many 
horses and camels. This, in the trying cir- 
cumstances, was a most dashing feat of arms, 
and for a time greatly raised the spirits of the 

On July 25 the water in the Mej had fallen 
considerably, but it was not yet fordable. On 
the 26th the 2nd Battalion 21st crossed on 
five elephants, followed by the 2nd Battalion 
12th. When half the latter corps had crossed, 
the Maratha horse began to threaten the troops 
remaining on the south bank. At first a small 
number showed, but by 3 P.M. about 2000 
Marathas had closed up to the outpost line. 
They, however, showed little enterprise and 
withdrew at dusk, and the whole detachment 
succeeded in crossing in the course of July 27. 
There had, however, been a great loss of life 
among the unfortunate camp-followers, numbers 
of whom were drowned whUe crossing the M^ 
on small and unstable rafts. 

Within a short distance of the Mej was the 

' Captain O'Donnell was specially mentioned by General Lake 
for his services in the retreat. He became a lieutenant-colonel 
and a C.B. He was wounded in the Mysore War of 1781, and 
again at Bhartpur. 


mouth of the Lakeri Pass, through which the 
detachment continued its retirement to Eampura. 
There was no organised attack, but all stragglers 
from the battalions and a great number of camp- 
followers were murdered by Minahs, a predatory 

Kampura lay eighteen miles beyond the 
northern outlet of the Lakeri Pass, and the 
whole force had arrived at that town by 
July 30 and encamped on the glacis of the 
fort, erecting any poor shelters obtainable. 
Colonel Monson, who had arrived at Rampura 
with the 2nd Battalion 2nd Native Infantry 
four or five days earlier, had busied himself 
with some slight success in collecting supplies. 
He here received orders from General Lake 
not to fall back beyond Kotah ; but that place 
was forty -five miles behind him, and it was 
impossible for him to retrace his footsteps. 
From various letters written by Monson at 
this time, it is evident that his misfortunes 
had been too much for his endurance. He in- 
cessantly changed his plans, and issued orders 
one day only to cancel them the next. 

On August 14 reinforcements arrived from 
Agra, consisting of the 2nd Battalion 9th Native 
Infantry and the 1st Battalion 14th Native 
Infantry, under Lieut. -Colonels M'Culloch and 


Ashe, — two fine battalions, well commanded; 
also a body of irregular horse, quite untrust- 
worthy, and six guns. The detachment was 
now stronger than ever; but unfortunately the 
reinforcements brought but scanty supplies with 
them, and their arrival therefore made it more 
difficult for Monson to hold his ground. 

Holkar's army now approached Rampura in 
two large bodies, — one commanded by himself, 
and the second by the traitor Bapuji Sindhia. 
Monson finally decided to continue his retreat, 
leaving a garrison of one battalion and four 
companies with four guns in the fort of Ram- 
pura. The battalion selected was the 2nd 
Battalion 8th Native Infantry, but Lieut. -Colonel 
Don was too ill from privations and exposure 
to remain with it, and accompanied the main 
body as an invalid. 

This force, now consisting of five and a half 
battalions^ with two howitzers, marched from 
Rampura on August 21 in the direction of 
Khushalgarh, but on the following day, soon 
after sunrise, was stopped by the Banas river 
twenty miles away. Holkar showed himself 
as incompetent a general as Monson, and had 

' 2nd Battalion 2nd, Ist Battalion 9th, 1st Battalion 14th, Ist 
and 2nd Battalions 12th, and six companies 21st Native InfantiT-. 
The remainder of the 21st were left at Rampura. 


made no dispositions to forbid the crossing ; but 
Monson also had lost the opportunity given 
him by his long halt at Rampura of collecting 
boats and securing the crossing -place, and this 
neglect proved the ruin of his unfortunate 

On August 23 three small boats were obtained, 
in which the treasure of its detachment, with its 
escort of six companies 21st Native Infantry, 
and the sick and wounded of the detachment, 
were ferried across. These details, under Captain 
William Nicholl, the commanding oflScer of the 
21st Native Infantry, had written orders to 
proceed at once to the mud fort of Baroda, 
eighteen mUes on the way to Khushalgarh. 
On arriving at Baroda, Captain Nicholl, an 
experienced officer of twenty-three years' service, 
found the position so weak that, on his own 
responsibility, he disobeyed his orders and 
pushed on to Khushalgarh. By this independ- 
ent conduct, and by his subsequent admirable 
behaviour at Khushalgarh, Captain NichoU 
saved Monson's force from destruction or cap- 
ture at that place. On the 24th the Banas 
had fallen and was fordable. Three battalions 
crossed by wading, carrying their arms and 
accoutrements on their heads, — the rear-guard, 
consisting of the 2nd Battalion 2nd Native 


Infantry and a company of the 9th Native 
Infantry, holding the south bank to cover the 
crossing of the baggage and camp-followers. 

Major Sinclair presently found that the 
Marathas had surrounded the rear -guard at 
such close range that it would be impossible 
for him to cross the river. He therefore, at 
the head of his own battalion and of the picquets 
of the 9 th Native Infantry, made a gallant 
charge, capturing eleven of the Maratha guns 
and driving the enemy from them. Sinclair 
himself, a man of slight frame and in bad health, 
planted with his own hand the colour of his 
regiment in the Maratha battery, but at this 
moment he was wounded in the knee and fell 
to the ground. Seeing his fall, the Marathas 
rallied, charged the rear-guard sword in hand, 
broke them, and drove them into the river. 
Sinclair and twelve other officers were killed. 
Colonel Monson, who had remained with the 
rear-guard and had shown his unfailing personal 
courage throughout the struggle, was wounded 
and hardly escaped. The only survivor of the 
officers of the 2nd Battalion 2nd Native Infantry 
was a lieutenant who had been wounded and 
carried off the field early in the day. The 
picquets of the 9th Native Infantry were killed 
or drowned to a man, and but few of the brave 


2nd, all of them wounded, made their way across 
the river. A native officer was seen carrying 
the colours of the regiment in one hand and 
defending himself with the other, but he fell 
in mid-stream, and he and the colours were seen 
no more. One of the two howitzers with the 
force was captured in consequence of the destruc- 
tion of the rear-guard, and the greater part of 
the baggage also fell into the hands of the 
enemy. The original detachment had nothing 
to lose, and the 9th and 14th, which had joined 
at Rampura, were now equally destitute. 

The detachment moved on from the Banas 
river at seven in the evening, formed in a 
hollow square, with the howitzer, the remaining 
baggage, and the surviving camp - followers in 
the centre. The enemy's horse accompanied 
them, and made many attempts to charge the 
rear-face. At about 11 p.m. a horseman galloped 
up to the square. His horse was shot and he 
fell to the earth, stunned and slightly wounded. 
He proved to be Lieutenant Shaw of the 14th 
Native Infantry, who, in consequence of a 
previous wound, had been placed on a camel, 
and had so fallen into the hands of the enemy. 
The Marathas had put him on a pony, and he 
had taken this opportunity to escape. 

The detachment continued its retreat on 


August 25, and though harassed until six in 
the evening by the enemy's horse, the corps 
kept their discipline and formation, and repulsed 
all attacks. The fire of the howitzer proved 
most valuable this day. At seven o'clock the 
detachment had the good fortune to meet a 
Brinjari convoy of 1000 bullocks carrying grain, 
which had been sent from Agra, and by some 
accident had not discovered the troops at Khush- 
algarh. This was a godsend, for the sepoys had 
had no food for two days. After an uncooked 
meal the exhausted detachment struggled into 
Khushalgarh, having marched thirty -six miles 
in thirty hours. 

Here Monson had expected to be reinforced 
by a considerable body of Sindhia's troops with 
twenty-five guns. On hearing of Monson's misfor- 
tunes, however, the Maratha officer in command 
showed open hostility, and called on Captain 
NichoU to deliver to him the treasure which 
he had brought from the Banas river. NichoU 
showed so bold a front that, after two faint- 
hearted attacks, the Marathas withdrew. Soon 
afterwards Monson arrived with his exhausted 
troops. Had Captain NichoU failed to hold 
Khushalgarh, Monson's force would have had 
no place of refuge. 

On the foUowing day, August 26, Monson 


ordered a halt, and the grain was served out. 
Until this date the conduct of the detachment 
had been admirable, but now, unhappily, symp- 
toms of disaffection appeared in the 9th and 
14th Regiments, who refused to accept their 
rations, saying that they would rather have 
nothing than hard grain. In justice to the 
sepoys, it must be added that seldom had troops 
been more severely tried. So long-continued a 
retreat was calculated to try the moral of any 
troops, and every mode of bribery had been con- 
stantly tried by the enemy. Money was offered, 
promotion was held out to all who would desert 
their colours and give up their officers, and the 
most cruel death threatened to those who might 
refuse these offers and afterwards fall into the 
enemy's hands. In spite of all these tempt- 
ations and their great sufferings, the 12th and 
other regiments remained loyal almost to a 
man, and the desertions from the 9th and 
14th Regiments were not wholesale. The 
total number of those who deserted is un- 
known, and is stated variously at two to five 
companies in the entire detachment. 

During the halt the Marathas collected 
round Khushalgarh in great numbers, esti- 
mated at 20,000 horse, with some infantry 
battalions and twenty-five guns. The town was 



completely surrounded, but at dusk the enemy- 
withdrew some distance. 

At 8 P.M. Monson silently evacuated the 
town, and when outside the gateway reformed 
his square and continued his retreat. The 
enemy constantly charged the rear of the 
square, but were always repulsed by the brave 
and steady 2nd Battalion 21st Native Infantry,^ 
the only corps of young soldiers in the de- 
tachment, not a man of whom (except the ser- 
geants) was more than twenty-three years of age. 
These attacks continued until noon on August 

27, when the Marathas drew off; but it was 
now found necessary to spike and abandon 
the last-remaining howitzer, the buUocks being 
no longer able to drag it. The weary troops 
continued their march until sunset, when they 
arrived at Hindun. The enemy held the 
town, but a ruined fort near the town was 
found unoccupied and seized. No long halt 
was possible, and Monson determined to give 
the troops a few hours' rest and to march 
about midnight. 

The detachment moved out of the ruined 
fort at one o'clock in the morning of August 

28, and formed square as before. At 6 a.m. 

' The 2l8t Regiment is now represented by the Ist Brahmans, 
the senior infantry regiment of the Indian Army. 


some ravines were entered, and the square did 
not clear them for an hour. This was a 
fatiguing operation, and caused some strag- 
gling. Just as the square left the broken 
ground in somewhat loose order, a desperate 
charge was made on it by the Maratha horse 
in three strong bodies. Fatigue was forgotten, 
discipline rose triumphant, and the square was 
ready in good time. The sepoys, obedient to 
the orders of the few remaining officers, held 
their fire untU the Marathas were within fifty 
yards of the right face of the square. This was 
formed of the 12th and 21st Regiments, who 
now opened a steady file-firing, almost every 
shot taking effect from the great numbers of 
the enemy. The Marathas lost heavUy, and 
retired in disorder. Their chiefs endeavoured 
to bring them to the charge again, but with- 
out success. Instead of charging they opened 
a heavy fire, which caused many casualties. 
The square now moved on, but were unhappily 
obliged to leave many of their wounded on 
the ground, who were all cruelly murdered. 
This repulse of the Maratha horse was the 
last triumph of the unfortunate detachment. 

"At sunset the force reached the Biana 
Pass, where on account of the exhausted and 
suffering condition of the troops Monson halted 


and would have passed the night ; but the 
enemy brought up his guns and opened so 
galling a fire that Monson was obliged to 
continue his retreat, which was continued to 
the town of Biana. But the night was dark, 
the camp - followers and baggage got mixed 
with the line, the troops were thrown into 
inextricable confusion, order could no more 
be restored, the troops fairly broke and fled ; 
and such as escaped the straggling parties of 
the enemy — for there was no further regular 
attack — made their way to Agra, which they 
reached in flying and detached groups on 
August 31." 

With these words James Skinner concludes 
his narrative of Monson's terrible retreat, 
which, in conjunction with the very clear and 
straightforward despatch of the latter, gives 
the most intelligible account of the disaster. 
It is estimated that between 300 and 400 
survivors of each battalion, except the 2nd 
Battalion 2nd Regiment, whose destruction 
has been mentioned, eventually reached Agra. 
Lieut. - Colonel St George Ashe,^ of the 2nd 
Battalion 9th Native Infantry, marched from 

' Lieut-Colonel St George Ashe received special mention from 
General Lake for his services during the retreat. He became a 
major-general, but appears to have received no reward. 


Biana on foot at the head of his bat- 
talion and kept it in formation. Of the 
few European artillery who survived so far, 
those who reached Fatehpur Sikri were taken 
prisoners with a Doctor Burgh, and were 
afterwards barbarously murdered in Holkar's 
presence for refiising to enter his service. 

Monson's report, written at Agra on Sep- 
tember 2, does justice to the courage and 
loyalty shown by so large a proportion of 
his force. It concludes with these words : "I 
beg leave now to assure your Excellency that 
the coolness and determined bravery shown 
by the officers and men of the detachment 
during this arduous conflict merit my warmest 
praise ; the firmness with which they received 
the repeated attacks of so superior and power- 
ful an enemy, and the patience with which 
they underwent the greatest hardships, claim 
my admiration and gratitude, and showed 
them worthy of the name of British troops. 
Your Excellency will perceive by the enclosed 
return of killed and wounded that our loss 
has been very great. Though I cannot but 
lament with the deepest regret the loss of 
so many noble fellows, yet I cannot but 
observe with some satisfaction that, even in 
the hour of death, each emulated the other 


to deeds of glory, and fell as became British 
soldiers and men." 

The officers selected by Monson for particular 
mention for the services in the retreat were 
Lieut. -Colonels Don, M'Culloch, and Ashe; 
Major RadclifFe ; Captains O'Donnell, Nicholl, 
Fetherston, and Fletcher. 

The immediate results of Colonel Monson's 
disaster were serious. All hopes of a speedy 
termination of the war vanished, and for a 
time the safety of Upper India was gravely 
imperilled. The energy of Lord Wellesley and 
his Commander-in-Chief, and the brave defence 
of Delhi, which will presently be described, 
saved the situation ; but permanent injury to 
British prestige was the result of so serious and 
complete a reverse. The natives of India had 
discovered that British armies were not invinc- 
ible, and the course of this narrative wiU show 
the consequence of their discovery. The story 
of Monson's advance and retreat proves him 
to have been rash and undecided, — hard 
words to apply to a brave and unfortunate 
soldier ; yet none others will fairly describe his 
conduct. His recklessness regarding supplies 
and communications, which had such fatal con- 
sequences, cannot be palliated. 

Many severe criticisms have been directed 

lake's senior officers. 295 

against General Lake, both for his selection 
of Monson for an independent command and 
for his despatch of the detachment southward 
from Jaipur at so unfavourable a time of year. 
As regards the choice of Monson, it does 
not appear that General Lake can fairly 
be blamed, A glance at the table of com- 
mands on page 148 will show that in this 
matter he acted with scrupulous fairness at the 
commencement of the war, dividing the com- 
mands of divisions and brigades impartially 
between the officers of the king's and the 
Company's armies ; and the narrative has shown 
that in the matter of independent commands 
he had acted in like manner throughout the 
operations. Of senior officers who took the field 
in 1803, General Ware and Colonel Vandeleur 
had been killed, and General St John had left 
the army. Of the colonels who had shown 
themselves fit for command. White was at 
Gwalior, Blair at Agra, Ochterlony at Delhi, 
Burn at Saharunpur, Don, in bad health, at 
Rampura. Monson, when chosen to command 
his detachment, was the senior brigadier with 
the army, and a man who had frequently dis- 
tinguished himself in action. He had just 
shown his zeal and military spirit by returning 
to duty in the field as soon as he had re- 


covered from a dangerous wound. It has 
been charged against Monson that he was out 
of sympathy with native troops and had no 
confidence in them. This may possibly be true, 
but he had, at least, much longer experience 
of the Indian Army than had Lake himself, 
who not only liked his native troops, but was 
both loved and trusted by them. Monson's 
defects of character were as yet unknown, 
and Lake had had no opportunity of detecting 
them. It seems a fair conclusion that Lake 
was in no way to blame for his choice of 

As for the unfortunate southward march which 
caused the disaster, it was not ordered by Lake. 
He, as far as the writer can ascertain, gave 
Monson a free hand, merely charging him with 
the protection of the Rajput states and of the 
British frontier. It would certainly have been 
better, as the event showed, had Lake given 
Monson more definite orders as to the limits 
of his movements ; but to treat a subordinate 
with generous confidence was natural to Lake, 
and was a venial sin. A man must have the 
defects of his qualities, and so it was with 

The defeat of Monson fell as a grievous blow 
on Lord Wellesley and on Lake, and both ac- 

wellesley's generosity. 297 

cepted it with admirable spirit. The Com- 
mander-in-Chiefs first thought was to take all 
the blame on his own shoulders, to suggest 
excuses both for Monson and Murray,^ and to 
attempt to cheer the Governor-General by assur- 
ances that the situation should speedily be 

Lord Wellesley's response was equally gener- 
ous. Regarding Monson, whom at the time he 
believed to be dead, he writes : " Whatever 
may have been his fate, or whatever the results 
of his misfortunes to my own fame, I will 
endeavour to shield his character from obloquy, 
nor will I attempt the mean purpose of sacrific- 
ing his reputation to save mine. His former 
services and his zeal entitle him to indulgence. 
We must endeavour rather to retrieve than to 

' Colonel, afterwards Lieut. - General Sir John Murray, was 
eventually removed from his command by Lord Wellesley on 
account of his failure to co-operate with Monson's southward 
advance. The contradictory orders given to Murray by Major- 
General Arthur Wellesley might have absolved Murray had he 
made no advance ; but having moved forward, and thereby en- 
couraged Monson also to advance, it was clearly Murray's duty 
to hold his ground until the safety of his own force was seriously 
threatened. This was never the case, and Murray's punishment 
was therefore deserved. It is a singular fact that Murray was 
subsequently employed under General Wellesley, then Lord Wel- 
lington, in the Peninsular War, and he again proved a failure. 
Sir John Murray was tried by court-martial in 1815 for his 
conduct of affairs at Alicante, but was acquitted to anything 
worse than want of judgment. 


blame what is past." The letter concludes 
with expressions of undiminished confidence in 
Lake, who acted with his usual promptitude 
and energy. Not a day was lost, for Lake 
marched from Cawnpore on September 3 at 
the head of his British troops. The 8th, 
27th, and 29th Light Dragoons, and what 
was left of the 76th, were still with him. 
The only newcomers were the newly - raised 
experimental battery of horse artillery and the 
flank companies of the 22nd Regiment, — a 
regiment which had an interesting history. It 
had returned in 1795 to England from the 
West Indies a mere skeleton, most of the men 
having died of yeUow fever, and the survivors 
having been drafted to regiments remaining 
abroad. Recruiting difl&culties were great, and 
every device was being tried to fill the ranks 
of the army. Three regiments, of which the 
22nd was one, were selected as " experimental 
regiments" in which boys from sixteen to nine- 
teen years old were to be enlisted. Those taken 
were principally boys who were maintained by 
their parishes. They came forward in large 
numbers, and grew into excellent soldiers. The 
22nd served two and a half years in the south 
of England, went to Guernsey in 1798, and 
in February 1800 was sent to South Africa. 


Owing to the disgraceful transport arrange- 
ments of the period, over seventy men of the 
regiment died during the voyage, but the re- 
mainder, broken to an iron discipline by the 
severe methods of the day, hardened into an 
exceptionally fine regiment. The 22nd moved 
on to India in February 1803, and the flank 
companies saw some service in the early portion 
of the Maratha War with the force under 
Colonel Harcourt in Cuttack. In January 1804 
these companies were ordered from Calcutta to 
join General Lake's army. John Shipp, a work- 
house boy, who had enlisted in 1795 and was 
now a sergeant in the Light company, states 
in his memoirs that the flank companies 
marched from Calcutta to the Biana Pass at 
the rate of twenty-five or twenty -six miles a- 
day, and thought nothing of it. The whole 
army was ordered to assemble at Agra ; and 
although the rains still continued to fall in 
torrents, and the whole country was inundated, 
the British corps reached the left bank of the 
Jumna on September 22. The regiments crossed 
the river independently, and proceeded to a 
camp between Agra and Sikandra, commanded 
by Colonel Macan. Here the army was formed, 
and was finally allotted to brigades on Sep- 
tember 27. 


Colonel Macan was placed in command of two 
brigades of cavalry — the first, under Lieut. 
Colonel Vandeleur, consisting of the 8 th Light 
Dragoons and the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th Bengal 
Cavalry ; and the second, commanded by Lieut.- 
Colonel Brown, comprising the 27th and 29th 
Light Dragoons and the 1st and 4th Bengal 

The infantry, commanded by Major -General 
Fraser, who had taken the place of Major- 
General St John, was divided into three 
brigades. Of these, Brigadier-General Monson 
again commanded the first, and had under him 
the 76th, the 1st Battalion 2nd and the 1st 
Battalion 4th Native Infantry ; Brigadier-General 
G. S. Browne commanded the second brigade 
(1st and 2nd Battalions loth and 1st Battalion 
21st Native Infantry); and Brigadier -General 
Ball, the third brigade, of two battalions only — 
the 1st Battalion 8th and the 2nd Battalion 
22nd Native Infantry. In order that Monson's 
detachment should not feel themselves in dis- 
grace. General Lake took the three most effect- 
ive battalions, the 1st and 2nd Battalions 12th 
and the 2nd Battalion 21st, and formed them 
into a reserve brigade, the command of which 
was given to Lieut. -Colonel Don. The flank 


companies of the 22nd Regiment were attached 
to this brigade. 

Lake desired to march against Holkar without 
delay, and by dint of great exertions was actu- 
ally able to leave Agra on October 1. 

Holkar's horse, though it had shown no 
great spirit in the pursuit of Monson's detach- 
ment, had been bold in the absence of organised 
resistance. During Lake's march from Cawnpore 
to Agra it had pushed into British territory and 
overrun a portion of the Doab, burning, robbing, 
and murdering as it went. As Holkar ap- 
proached Muttra on September 15, Colonel 
Browne, the commandant, who was at the head 
of a considerable garrison, retired hurriedly on 
Agra. This was pardonable, for Holkar's 
strength at this time, according to James 
Skinner, was 60,000 horse of sorts, 15,000 in- 
fantry, and 192 guns. The town of Muttra, 
with much baggage and a store of grain, fell 
into the hands of Holkar ; great alarm filled the 
minds of the inhabitants of the Doab ; the Jat 
Raja of Bhartpur, who had become an ally 
of the British at the time of Laswari, evidently 
inclined to the cause of the Marathas ; and the 
general aspect of affairs was highly alarming. 

Lake's arrival at Agra, however, restored con- 


fidence, and his decision to employ part of 
Monson's detachment assured the sepoys that 
he still confided in their loyalty and fight- 
ing quality. Lake marched from Sikandra, as 
has been stated, on October 1, and arrived 
almost unopposed at Muttra three days later. 
On the first day's march no enemy was seen, 
but after it the Maratha horse hung about 
the columns of march and gave Lake hopes of 
bringing on a general action. Holkar, however, 
was playing a deep game, for while thus occu- 
pying Lake's attention with his cavalry, he 
despatched his infantry and artillery under his 
adopted son, Harnat Singh, to attempt the 
capture of Delhi and the emperor. 

This was a brilliant move, and would have 
succeeded but for the sagacity of Ochterlony, 
the Resident, who had anticipated some such 
an attempt, and had prepared to meet it. 
During the hot weather Delhi had lain with- 
out a garrison, except for the regular battalion 
which formed an escort for the emperor and 
furnished the Resident's guard. Lieut. -Colonel 
Burn, who had originally commanded the troops 
appointed to watch the city, had been sent with 
his regiment to Saharunpur, in order to guard 
against any movement on the part of the Sikhs. 
One of Sindhia's battalions, which had been 


taken into the British service, had similarly 
been stationed under Major Harriott, its com- 
manding officer, at Kohtak, and another bat- 
talion of the same origin, under Lieutenant 
Birch, was at Panipat. All these outlying 
detachments were called in by Ochterlony as 
soon as he heard of the approach of Holkar, 
but so rapid was the approach of the Marathas 
that any sluggishness of movement would have 
been fatal. Realising the situation, Lieut.- 
Colonel Burn made forced marches from Saha- 
runpur, covering nearly thirty miles a-day, and 
arrived at Delhi on September 5. The country 
people rose, for the star of Britain seemed to 
be declining : most of Burn's baggage was 
captured, but he, an experienced soldier, saw 
that no time was to be lost, and hurried on, 
allowing the marauders to escape unpunished. 

On arriving at Delhi, Bum assumed the com- 
mand of all the troops there, and prepared to 
defend the city and palace. The total force, 
after the concentration, consisted of two bat- 
talions and four companies of sepoys ; the 
two irregular battalions from Eohtak and Pani- 
pat, each about 400 strong ; 400 other irregular 
matchlock men ; and a party of irregular horse, 
about 1200 strong, under Lieutenant Hunter. 
This seemed to Colonel Burn a very inadequate 


force with which to defend the seven mUes of 
ruinous walls which surrounded the city of Delhi, 
particularly as eight companies, or a third of the 
regular sepoys, were unavailable, being required 
to garrison the palace and Fort Selimgarh, in 
which there were reserve provisions for twenty 
days. Burn therefore took up a position outside 
Delhi, and for more than a month successfully 
held at a distance the weak parties of Marathas 
who approached the city. On October 7, how- 
ever, Ochterlony decided that it was no longer 
safe for the small force to remain in the open. 
Burn's irregulars had on several occasions given 
trouble, and severe measures had been necessary 
in the case of one corps. On this day, too, the 
irregular horse had behaved badly, and Ochter- 
lony therefore used his authority as Resident 
and insisted on Burn retiring into the city. As 
the infantry marched into Delhi Hunter's horse 
deserted, the greater part of them going over to 
the enemy. 

Having received definite orders. Burn loyally 
took up the defence of the city of Delhi, and 
found before him the following task : with 1400 
regular sepoys, 1100 irregulars, and 11 guns, to 
defend seven miles of ruinous walls pierced by 
many gates against a force of 10,000 infantry, 
8000 cavalry, with 160 guns. The enemy could 

ochterlony's forethought. 305 

choose his point of attack, and was defended by 
the immense army of Holkar himself against 
anything that General Lake might attempt 
in aid of the besieged. 

The task committed to Burn would have been 
a hopeless one but for the wise forethought exer- 
cised by Ochterlony during Burn's month of 
active operations outside Delhi. In this period 
Ochterlony had to some extent repaired the 
walls, and had constructed redoubts for the 
defence of the principal gates. Bum, on enter- 
ing the city, allotted small garrisons to these 
redoubts, and posted the remainder of his force 
in selected positions along the walls. So in- 
adequate was the number of men available to 
the space to be guarded that no relief could 
be furnished. Every man, therefore, had to 
cook his food on his post and there get what 
rest he could. 

The atrocities committed by Holkar on the 
prisoners and wounded of Monson's force now 
recoiled on his head. The defenders of Delhi 
determined to hold their post to the last, and 
never by surrender to risk having to endure 
similar cruelties. 

Burn's troops were hardly distributed in their 
positions when, early in the morning of October 
8, the Maratha army, under Harnat Singh, were 



seen advancing through the ravines and filing 
off in every direction so as to envelop the city 
of Delhi. Operations quickly began, for at nine 
o'clock the Marathas brought several large guns 
into action and opened a heavy fire on the 
north-east bastion, on which an 18 -pounder was 
mounted. The defences of this gun were soon 
destroyed, and it was found necessary to with- 
draw it lest its own fire should bring down the 
bastion. As it appeared that this was likely to be 
the point of assault, a battery for three guns was 
constructed on a height behind the bastion, and 
the defences were otherwise strengthened. In 
the course of the night the Marathas constructed 
a very fine battery mounting twenty-four guns, 
and dug trenches for two battalions to guard it ; 
and although the distance fi"om the wall was too 
great, they had, by the evening of October 10, 
made three practicable breaches, in spite of the 
unremitting exertions of the garrison to repair 
the damage. A heavy fire was also kept up on 
other portions of the wall, but it seemed evident 
that an assault on the three breaches near the 
north-east bastion was intended. Colonel Burn 
therefore decided that a sortie was necessary, 
which was made the same night (October 10) 
by a party of 300 picked men. This party was 
led by Lieutenant John Rose, an officer of nine 


years' service, who had been severely wounded 
and had highly distinguished himself at the 
capture of Agra. 

Lieutenant Rose's party carried out their 
duty on this occasion with complete success, 
reaching the battery unobserved. Charging 
into the trenches, they drove away the gunners 
and infantry in the vicinity, spiked the guns, 
and returned, having suffered very slight loss. 
This spirited sortie so alarmed the Marathas 
that they abandoned the low ground altogether, 
and the garrison was able to repair the 
breaches unmolested. 

On the morning of October 11 the enemy 
turned their attention to the wall near the 
Delhi gate, and also at a place near the 
Turkoman gate, making considerable breaches 
at both places. The first breach was repaired 
during the night, and no further attempt was 
made at that point ; but as the ruins near the 
Turkoman gate afforded much cover and served 
as ready-made batteries and trenches, the wall 
in that region was severely battered, and the 
breach there soon became practicable. This 
danger was met by Burn by the construction 
of an inner line of defence, consisting of 
strongly constructed parapets. 

The Marathas, while keeping up a heavy 


fire on the breach, assailed these new works 
by mining, and, had more time been available, 
would doubtless thus have taken Delhi. On 
October 13 they discovered that General Lake 
was approaching with his army, and having 
no wish to be caught between two fires, they 
resolved to attempt an immediate assault. 
Accordingly, on the morning of October 14, 
the Maratha artillery opened a very heavy fire 
on selected points in all portions of the wall 
of Delhi save on the side washed by the 
Jumna, and soon after sunrise their infantry 
was seen advancing in large bodies with scal- 
ing-ladders against the points selected for 
escalade. The attempts, however, were made 
with little vigour, and were all repulsed. The 
Marat has retired, leaving their ladders on the 
ground. There was some expectation of a 
second attempt at night, but none was made, 
and in the morning of October 15 it was 
found that the Marathas had abandoned the 

In spite of the want of spirit shown by the 
enemy, the defence of Delhi by Burn and 
Ochterlony must be regarded as a fine feat of 
arms; for it was undertaken at a time when an 
adverse tide was flowing, and the disparity of 
men and guns was very great. The loyalty 


of the irregular portion of the garrison was 
also doubtful, and it is on this account that 
Burn and Ochterlony deserve so much credit 
for their decision to risk all and to hold the 
city as well as the fortress. Less determined 
men would have found fair reason to abandon 
the larger task, and would have been satisfied 
to hold the fort and palace alone. Nor must 
the fine courage and discipline of the sepoys 
be forgotten, for both were tried to the utmost 
by the manner in which they were distributed 
among scattered posts, with full knowledge 
that a treacherous surrender in any part of 
the defences would seal the doom of every 
man wearing the Company's uniform. 

Recognising that the character of the defence 
threw exceptional responsibility on junior officers. 
General Lake bestowed the honour of a mention 
in General Orders on a large number of those 
who had distinguished themselves. Having 
eulogised the "skill and fortitude" shown by 
Lieut. -Colonel Burn, and the " wise and timely 
precautions" taken by Ochterlony, special men- 
tion was accorded to Lieutenants Bose, Evans, 
Heathcote, Dickson, and Locket, the subalterns 
who led the sortie. Captains Harriott and 
Carnegie and Lieutenants Woodville and Birch, 
officers who had abandoned Sindhia's service at 


the beginning of the war, were also mentioned, 
as were Lieutenants Lindsay and Hunter, 
cavalry officers who " handsomely volunteered 
their services." Not satisfied with this reward, 
General Lake consistently devoted his patronage 
as Commander-in-Chief in furthering the in- 
terests of officers who had rendered good service 
in the field or had been disabled by wounds. 

The name of the gallant commandant of 
Delhi in the defence of the city in October 1804 
is still preserved, for Burn's Bastion is so called 
in his honour. Lieut. -Colonel Burn retired from 
the army in 1810, but his colleague Ochterlony 
lived to become a lieutenant-general, a baronet, 
a Grand Cross of the Bath, and the conqueror 
of Nepal. John Eose, the young subaltern 
who led the sortie, also reached high rank in 
the army, dying a lieutenant-general and a 
Knight Commander of the Bath. 


The most able criticism of Monson's operations is 
contained in a private letter written by the Duke of 
Wellington at Calcutta in September 1804. The 
Duke, then Sir Arthur Wellesley, wrote with a full 
knowledge of all the circumstances, and he was well 
acquainted with Monson. It may be added that in all 
his long life the Duke never wrote an unfair criticism 
of an operation of war. 


Sir Eobert Peel, in speaking of the Duke of Well- 
ington, said that he considered him the most powerful 
writer in the English language, and that the letter upon 
Colonel Monson's retreat was the best military letter 
he had ever read. In addition to this testimony there 
is on record an interesting letter by General Sir Charles 
Napier, written shortly after the battle of Miani, in 
which he says : " The Duke's letter on the retreat of 
Colonel Monson decided me never to retire before an 
Indian army. If I have done wrong abstractedly (for 
success, like charity, covers sins), the Great Master led 
me into it : but my own conviction is that I have done 
right ; and that my admiration of him, and study of his 
words and deeds, as the great rules of war, have caused 
this victory." A letter so admired by Peel, and taken 
by Charles Napier as his guide in a critical moment, 
is surely worthy of the attention of students of the 
art of war. 

" FoBT William, September 12, 1804. 

"You will have heard reports of poor Monson's 
reverses, but as I am on the spot, you will be glad to 
hear the truth from me; and as they give some im- 
portant military lessons to us all, I do not regard the 
trouble of writing them to you. When it became 
necessary to attack Holkar, Monson was detached from 
the grand army with three battalions and their guns, and 
a body of cavalry imder Lieutenant Lucan. Holkar, who 
was then near Ajmeer with an army composed only of 
horse (and as Gen. Lake was at no great distance from 
Monson), retreated towards Malwa. 

" After quitting the river Jumna and passing through 
the flat country depending on Agra, the first country 
going to the southward is a mountainous tract called 
Jeypoor, governed by the Eajah of that name, who had 
been tributary to Scindiah and Holkar previous to the 
late war, and who had been relieved from his tribute by 


the operation of the treaty of peace. Joining to the 
territory of Jeypoor is that of the Eajah of Boondy, of 
the same description; and joining to Boondy is the 
territory of the Eajah of Kota. These last two Eajahs 
had been, and are still, tributary to Scindiah ; and Holkar 
has claims upon them which they hoped to get rid of 
by the British assistance, in consequence of their conduct 
in the war; at all events they were desirous to obtain 
for a time British protection against the demands of 

"Between Boondy and Jeypoor is a small territory 
and fort called Eampoora, which at the commencement 
of the war belonged to Holkar. This territory had 
formerly been part of the Jeypoor territory, and had 
been seized by the Holkar family in some of their former 
contests with the Eajah of Jeypoor. The whole of this 
country between Agra and the province of Malwa, which 
joins to the Kota territory and which is entered through 
a pass called the Muckundra ghaut, is intersected by 
rivers and nullahs, which are either full throughout the 
western rains or are filled at times by those rains, and 
become impassable for troops. Of these the principal is 
the river Chumbul, which runs between Kota and 
Boondy, and the river Banas, which runs between 
Eampoora and Agra. 

" When Holkar fled in front of the army of the 
Commander-in-Chief, Col. Monson followed him success- 
ively to Boondy and Kota, the Eajahs of which countries 
were very desirous to have the protection of the British 
troops against his exactions, and promised supplies and 
everything which Col. Monson could want. At the 
same time that Col. Monson advanced, a detachment 
under Col. Don, consisting of two battalions, was sent to 
take Eampoora, of which place it got possession by 
storm; and this detachment afterwards joined and re- 
inforced Monson's corps, which then consisted of five 

THE LETTER (continued). 313 

" In the month of June the Commander-in-Chief with- 
drew his army into cantonments, leaving Monson's corps 
in the Kota country. Monson, towards the end of that 
month, passed through the Muckundra ghaut into Malwa, 
accompanied by the troops of the Eajah of Kota, and 
some of Scindiah's, under Bappojee Scindiah, and attacked 
and took by storm the hill fort of Hinglisghur ; and after 
this operation he took up a position in Malwa, recom- 
mended to him by the Eajah of Kota, at some distance 
from the Muckundra ghaut, in which the Eajah told him 
he was likely to get supplies, and from which Monson 
expected to be able to communicate with Col. Murray, 
at that time on his march from Guzerat towards 

" After his retreat in front of the Conmiander-in-Chief 
Holkar had first threatened Ougein, and afterwards gone 
to Mundissoor, a town belonging to Scindiah, situated to 
the north-west of Ougein, and on the left of the Chumbul. 
Between the middle and latter end of June he took and 
plundered this town ; and at that time the river Chum- 
bul was between him and Col. Monson, who was encamped 
about five coss from the river, on the right bank. 

"Towards the beginning of July Holkar passed the 
Chumbul with his army. Col. Monson learnt that he 
was doing so, and intended to attack him. He moved 
towards the place at which he heard Holkar was, and 
found that the whole army had crossed the river ; nearly 
about the same time, he understood that Col. Murray, 
who had made two marches towards Ougein from 
Guzerat, had recrossed the Myhie ; and upon the whole, 
Monson, having only two days' provisions, thought it 
best to retreat. Accordingly he sent off his baggage 
early on the following morning, the 8 th July I believe, 
towards the Muckundra ghaut; and he followed with 
the infantry at about nine in the morning, meaning to 
reach Muckundra that night, the distance about seven- 
teen miles. He left Lucan, with his irregular horse and 


Bappojee Scindiah's horse, to cover his rear, and to follow 
as his rear-guard. After Monson had marched a few 
miles he heard that Holkar had attacked with his 
cavalry his rear -guard of irregular horse, and shortly 
afterwards he received intelligence that the rear-guard 
was destroyed and Lucan taken prisoner. He arrived 
at Muckundra unmolested and took up a position that 
covered the ghaut, but which, like all others that I have 
seen, had many passages practicable for cavalry. 

" On the next day, or the next but one, Monson was 
attacked by the whole of Holkar's cavalry in three 
separate bodies, who, however, could make no impression 
on him, and they were beat off. Towards evening he 
heard that the infantry was arrived at a camp within 
two or three coss of the Muckundra ghaut, with their 
guns, 175 in number, and he determined to retreat 
again. He accordingly marched to Kota, the Eajah of 
which place urged him to stay there, but could not 
supply him with provisions ; and then Monson marched 
on the following day and crossed the Chumbul in boats 
provided by the Eajah, which he sunk after he had 

"The rain began about the 10th July and became 
incessant, and rendered Monson's marches much more 
difficult than they would otherwise have been, partic- 
ularly in that country, which is a black cotton soil. At 
last, after he had crossed the Chumbul, he was obliged 
to spike his guns and leave them behind ; and he con- 
tinued his march, getting but little provision on the 
road until he reached Eampoora. He was followed, 
but not much harassed, by a body of Holkar's horse, 
which overtook him at a nuUah, which, being full, 
stopped him. He twice beat up the camp of this body 
of horse, and then I believe they quitted him. On his 
arrival at Eampoora, Monson was joined by two bat- 
talions with their guns, and a body of Hindustany horse 
under Major Frith, which had been sent from Agra to 

THE LETTER (continued). 315 

reinforce him, and he immediately began to collect pro- 
visions at Bampoora. 

" The rains which had been so distressing to Monson 
likewise impeded Holkar, some of whose guns remained 
to the southward of the Muckundra ghaut. His pro- 
gress to the northward was likewise impeded by Monson 
having destroyed the Eajah of Kota's boats on the 
Chumbul. However, at last he advanced, and towards 
the 20th August again approached Monson at Eampoora. 

" By this time Monson had collected only about 
twelve days' provisions, and the Commander-in-Chief, 
foreseeing the difficulty in which he might again be 
involved, desired him on the 20th August to retire 
towards Jeypoor, if he should think it probable that 
he might be distressed for provisions. Monson, how- 
ever, remained till Holkar approached him within six 
coss with his whole army, and on the 21st August, 
in the evening, commenced his retreat towards Agra 
by Kooshalghur, leaving Jeypoor on his left hand. He 
left fifteen companies as a garrison in Eampoora. He 
arrived at Banas river on the 23 rd, and found that it 
was full; on the 24th, in the morning, it fell and 
became fordable, and he passed over his baggage and 
a battalion, and between twelve and three o'clock he 
passed over three more battalions, leaving the picquets 
and one battalion to support them on the southern bank. 

"Holkar's troops had appeared in the morning, and 
were seen crossing at different fords on the right and 
left flank; and towards evening Holkar's infantry and 
guns appeared in front. They attacked the picquets, 
but were repulsed ; and the picquets and battalion took 
eight guns ; but afterwards our troops were overpowered 
by superior numbers and were obliged to retreat across 
the river to the main body, in which operation they lost 
many men, being attacked on their rear, and also by the 
horse who had crossed the river and moved up its bed. 
Monson retreated from Banas river on the night of the 


24th, leaving his baggage, and arrived at Kooshalghur, 
about forty miles distant, on the night of the 25 th. He 
was followed throughout the march by Holkar's horse, 
who, however, were not able to make any impression on 
him. He halted on the night of the 25 th and the 26 th 
at Kooshalghur, and on the 26 th at night marched to- 
wards Agra. Something happened on the 27 th of 
which I have not received an account ; but on the 3 th 
Monson and his detachment arrived at Agra. The 
Commander-in-Chief has taken the field, and it is to 
be hoped that he will have an early opportunity of 
wiping away the disgrace which we have suffered. 

" It is worth while to review these transactions, in 
order that we may see to what these misfortunes ought 
to be attributed, that in future, if possible, they may 
be avoided. 

" In the first place, it appears that Col. Monson's corps 
was never so strong as to be able to engage Holkar's 
army, if that chief should collect it ; at least the Colonel 
was of that opinion. Secondly, it appears that it had 
not any stock of provisions. Thirdly, that it depended 
for provisions upon certain Eajahs who urged its advance. 
Fourthly, that no measures whatever were taken by 
British officers to collect provisions either at Boondy 
or Kota, or even at Eampoora, a fort belonging to us, 
in which we had a British garrison. Fifthly, that the 
detachment was advanced to such a distance, over so 
many almost impassable rivers and nullahs, without any 
boats collected or posts upon those rivers ; and in fact, 
that the detachment owes its safety to the Eajah of 
Kota, who supplied them with his boats. 

" The result of these facts is an opinion in my mind 
that the detachment must have been lost, even if Holkar 
had not attacked them with his infantry and cavalry. 

" In respect to the conduct of the operations, it is my 
opinion that Monson ought to have attacked Holkar in 
the first instance. If he chose to retire, he ought to 

THE LETTER (contimied). 31 V 

have supported the rear-guard with his infantry, and to 
have sent the irregular horse away with the baggage. 

" When he began to retreat, he ought not to have 
stopped longer than a night at Muckundra; because he 
must have been certain that the same circumstances 
which obliged him to retire to Muckundra would also 
oblige him to quit that position. The difference between 
a good and a bad military position is nothing when the 
troops are starving. 

" The same reasoning holds good respecting Monson's 
halt at Eampoora, imless he intended to fight. As he 
had been reinforced, he ought to have fallen back till he 
was certain of his supplies ; and having waited till Holkar 
approached him, and particularly as Holkar's army was 
not then in great strength in infantry and guns, he ought 
to have vigorously attacked him before he retired. 
When his picquets were attacked on the Banas, he ought 
to have supported them with his whole corps, leaving one 
battalion on the northern bank to take care of his 
baggage ; and if he had done so, he probably would have 
gained a victory, would have saved his baggage, and 
regained his honour. 

" We have some important lessons from this campaign. 
First, we should never employ a corps on a service for 
which it is not fully equal. Secondly, against the 
Mahrattas in particular, but against all enemies, we 
should take care to be sure of plenty of provisions. 
Thirdly, experience has shown us that British troops 
can never depend upon Eajahs, or any allies, for their 
supplies. Our own officers must purchase them; and 
if we should employ a native in such an important 
service, we ought to see the supplies before we venture 
to expose our troops in the situation in which they 
may want them. Fourthly, when we have a fort which 
can support our operations, such as Eampoora to the 
northward, or Ahmednugger, or Chandore, in your quarter, 
we should immediately adopt effectual measures to fill 


it with provisions and stores in case of need. Fifthly, 
when we cross a river likely to be full in the rains, we 
ought to have a post and boats upon it, — as I have 
upon all the rivers south of Poonah, and as you have, 
I hope, upon the Beemah and the Godavery, 

" In respect to the operations of a corps in the situa- 
tion of Monson's, they must be decided and quick ; and 
in all retreats it must be recollected that they are safe 
and easy in proportion to the number of attacks made 
by the retreating corps. But attention to the foregoing 
observations will, I hope, prevent a British corps from 

Sir Arthur Wellesley lived to witness the destruction, 
in 1842, of a British army through the neglect of the 
principles so clearly laid down by him in the above 
letter ; and if the Great Master's advice was ignored in 
his lifetime, it may be of use to reproduce it a century 
after it was written. The conditions of war may change, 
but its principles remain the same. 




While Holkar's infantry and artillery were en- 
deavouring to capture Delhi, their master was 
doing his best to avoid contact with General 
Lake's small army. Holkar was well aware 
that an encounter with Lake, with his dreaded 
European troops, would not be willingly risked 
by his army ; nor in spite of his boast to General 
Wellesley, written in the previous February, 
" General Lake shall not have leisure to breathe 
for a moment," did he show any desire to measure 
his skill against that of the Commander-in-Chief 
It seemed easier to him, and more in accordance 
with the character of his army, to carry out 
the remainder of his threat, " countries of many 
hundred kos shall be overrun and plundered, and 
calamities will faU on lakhs of human beings 
in continual war, by the attacks of my army, 
which overwhelms like the waves of the sea." 
It was related in the last chapter that Muttra 


fell into the hands of Holkar on September 
15, and was reoccupied by General Lake on 
October 3. On the following day a convoy of 
100 camels, bringing grain to the army from 
Agra, was captured, with its escort of conval- 
escent sepoys. This happened at the village 
of Aring, under the very nose of Lake's army, 
and, according to Skinner's memoirs, several 
other convoys of grain were captured about 
the same time, owing to the great numerical 
strength of the enemy. There was, in conse- 
quence, something approaching starvation in 
Lake's camp, six pounds of coarse flour, the 
common food of the sepoys, selling for a rupee. 
Lake made two attempts to bring Holkar's 
horse to action, marching from his camp on 
October 7 and 10 at such an hour as to arrive 
at the Maratha outposts a few minutes before 
dawn. On these occasions the infantry made 
a direct approach, whUe the cavalry made an 
enveloping movement ; but the Marathas were 
nervously on the alert, and were found in 
the saddle, warning having been given by 
rockets and signal -fires. On October 7 a few 
Marathas only were killed by the galloper guns, 
whUe on the 10th, though the British cavalry 
swept at a gallop through the Maratha camp, 
Holkar's horsemen scattered in every direction 


and suffered but little loss. When, however, 
after these affairs, the British turned to retrace 
their footsteps to Muttra, the Marathas, writes 
Thorn, who was present, "dashed on, attacking 
our rear and flanks, firing long shots with 
their matchlocks, while those who were armed 
with spears and tulwars (swords) flourished their 
weapons, making at the same time a noise like 
jackals by way of bravado." On the second 
occasion about thirty Marathas were killed and 
several captured, who expected to be put to 
death in retaliation for the atrocities committed 
upon Monson's men. General Lake, however, 
gave each prisoner a rupee and put them at 
liberty, sending a message to Holkar "that 
none but cowards treated their prisoners with 

Lake now received information of the siege 
of Delhi from Colonel Ochterlony, and was 
anxious to march to the relief of the hard- 
pressed garrison. This, however, was impossible 
without supplies, which depended on the arrival 
of a Brinjari convoy from Cawnpore. There had 
been a great scarcity of food for six days, the 
native troops were uneasy in mind, and Skinner 
states that Lake found it necessary to post a 
sepoy with each trooper vidette, with orders to 
shoot the trooper should he attempt to desert. 


Skinner was asked by General Lake to attempt 
to bring the Brinjari convoy into camp, and 
with this object made a most gallant night 
march of thirty-five miles at the head of 1200 of 
his horse. By good management and determina- 
tion Skinner succeeded in bringing in the whole 
convoy of 60,000 bullocks laden with flour, which 
provided seven days' rations for the army. This 
was a priceless service, which Lake recognised 
by presenting Skinner with his own sword and 
20,000 rupees (£2000). 

Lake was now able to start for Delhi, and 
set out on October 12. His cavalry led the 
way, followed by the baggage and bazaars, 
which marched along the bank of the Jumna, 
the infantry in column guarding the exposed 
flank. Holkar could do nothing to retard the 
march of the army while in this secure for- 
mation, though he made feeble attacks on 
October 13 and 17, which were repulsed at the 
cost of a few casualties. 

On October 18 Delhi was reached; but the 
Maratha besieging force had gone away four 
days earlier, and were now followed by their 
main body, which retired about four days' 
march from Delhi in a northerly direction. 
General Lake desired to pursue Holkar at once, 
and issued immediate orders for the army to 

holkab's superior mobility. 323 

deposit half its camp equipage at Delhi and 
to march on October 19. Sufficient Bupplies, 
however, were not obtainable, and it was repre- 
sented to Lake that it would be useless to pursue 
Holkar with weary transport animals, his guns 
being drawn by the best bullocks in India, 
assisted by an ample supply of elephants. 

A halt at Delhi was therefore imperative ; 
but on October 26 Lieut. - Colonel Burn was 
despatched to his former post, Saharunpur, 
where it was thought desirable to re-establish 
a garrison in order to keep an eye on the 
southern Sikhs. Three days later Holkar sud- 
denly took the offensive, crossed the Jumna 
near Panipat, and overtook Burn on his march 
near Shamli, a town about sixty - four miles 
north-east of Delhi. 

Burn's detachment consisted of his own bat- 
talion, the 2nd Battalion 14th Native Infantry, 
and an irregular battalion, with six guns. He 
was attacked almost immediately after crossing 
the Jumna ; but being a resolute man, and 
knowing that Mr Guthrie, the magistrate at 
Saharunpur, was besieged by the Sikhs, he 
determined to push on by forced marches, and, 
if possible, thus keep ahead of the Marathas. 

Unfortunately, Burn was delayed on the road 
on October 28 by the breakdown of one of 


his gun - carriages, and on the following day, 
outside Shamli, the Marathas appeared in great 
strength, commanded by Holkar himself. Burn 
was anxious that Holkar should attack him ; 
but the Marathas showed no such intention, 
contenting themselves, as stated in Burn's nar- 
rative, with "sniping"^ his men from the 
shelter of the surrounding jungle. 

Early on October 30, Burn, finding that he 
could not advance through the jungle owing to 
the great number of the Marathas, and feel- 
ing confident that Lake would soon hear of his 
situation and come to his relief, took refuge in 
a waUed enclosure furnished with small bast- 
ions at the four corners. Believing that Burn 
would be unable to mount his guns, the Marathas 
came in close to the walls. After great labour, 
however, four 6 -pounders were got up on the 
bastions, which opened unexpectedly on the 
enemy with great efiect. The Marathas con- 
stantly threatened the detachment with assault, 
and exhibited ladders, thereby keeping them 
on the alert. They also erected platforms from 
which they were able to fire into the crowded 
troops, causing heavy loss. Among other casu- 

' The word has long been popular with soldiers, but the writer 
is not aware of its having been used prior to this instance. 


alties, an oflScer who was pointing one of the 
guns was shot from one of these platforms, 
losing the sight of both his eyes. The Marathas 
confidently expected to compel the detachment 
to surrender, for the troops had been unable to 
take any grain with them into the fort, and 
the only food at first obtainable was the sheep 
and goats taken by the officers for their own 
supply. These were carefully distributed among 
those who would eat meat, but many of the 
sepoys were Hindoos of high caste, who, as a 
matter of course, refused it, and were conse- 
quently reduced to starvation. Lieutenant Rose, 
the officer who led the sortie from Delhi,, per- 
formed a similar service at Shamli, and headed 
a foraging party, which brought in some scanty 
supplies. In spite of their very severe sufferings 
and losses. Colonel Burn's detachment showed a 
noble fortitude and loyalty, refusing all the 
bribes offered them by Holkar if they would 
betray their officers. On November 3 General 
Lake relieved Shamli, arriving fi:om Delhi, after 
a forced march of four days, with six regiments 
of cavalry and the reserve brigade of infantry 
under Lieut. -Colonel Don. These marches formed 
the first stage of Lake's pursuit of Holkar, one 
of the most remarkable marches on record. 


Colonel Burn's detachment was reduced to a 
very weak state from starvation, and nearly 
a hundred sepoys had been killed. 

The townsmen of Shamli had combined with 
the Marathas against Colonel Burn's detachment, 
and General Lake consequently gave up the 
town to plunder as an example to others. 

Mr Guthrie, hearing that Bum was besieged 
at Shamli, had provided for his own safety 
by placing himself under the protection of the 
Begum Sumru. Lake therefore decided that 
it was unnecessary to garrison Saharunpur at 
this stage, and, for the time being, carried 
Colonel Burn's detachment to Meerut, where 
he left it to watch the course of events. 

We must now revert to General Lake's march 
in pursuit of Holkar, and, to make matters clear, 
must return for a moment to Delhi. It will be 
remembered that when Bum's detachment left 
that city, Lake was engaged in collecting sup- 
plies and transport, in order to bring Holkar 
to action. Information was presently obtained 
that the Maratha infantry and guns had retired 
towards Dig, — or Deeg, to use the spelling then 
in vogue, — while Holkar himself, with the bulk 
of his cavalry, had moved in the direction of 

General Lake, therefore, set out with a small 

lake's pursuit of holkar. 327 

force, as has been stated, on October 31, in 
pursuit of Holkar, while he despatched the re- 
mainder of his army, under Major - General 
Eraser, to deal with the infantry and artillery 
before Dig. 

There was at first no reason to suppose that 
Holkar would have caught up Burn's detach- 
ment, that event having only been brought 
about by the unfortunate mischance to his 
gun, and Lake's two first marches were conse- 
quently of reasonable length, as is advisable 
after a halt. The first march, to Loni, was 
ten miles, and the second, to Bhagpat, fourteen 
miles. Lake then heard of Burn's position, 
and, on November 2, marched from Bhagpat 
to Kandla, twenty -seven miles. Early on the 
following day he marched the eleven remaining 
miles to Shamli, and effected the relief On 
November 4 the force halted. 

Not to weary the reader by a string of 
marches with unpronounceable names, it may 
suffice to say that from November 5 to 17 
Lake's force marched continuously until on the 
latter date they found their quarry, and, what 
is yet more remarkable, Don's reserve brigade 
of infantry kept with them, march by march, 
until on the last day the distance and pace 
went beyond the powers of even that admirable 


brigade. From October 31 to November 17 the 
total distance covered in this march by the 
infantry and baggage was 325 miles by the 
map, — an average of 18 miles a-day, including 
the halt day. The actual distance covered by 
the cavalry and horse artillery was considerably 
greater, and was estimated by Captain Thorn, 
who was Brigade-Major of Cavalry to Colonel 
Macan, at 25 miles a-day, during the last 
fourteen marches. 

It is worth remembering, as bearing on the 
working powers of young Indian soldiers, that 
one of the infantry battalions which performed 
this feat of marching was the 2nd Battalion 
21st Native Infantry, not a man of which 
had been over twenty-two years old when the 
battalion joined the army. The 21st and 12th, 
the latter a veteran corps, had also recently 
maintained their efficiency under the hardships 
of Monson's retreat. 

Throughout Lake's pursuit of Holkar through 
the Doab, the Marathas always kept from 
twenty-five to thirty miles ahead, burning and 
destroying as they went along. When, how- 
ever, Aliganj was reached, on October 16, the 
village was found still burning, and Holkar 
was reported to be near Farakhabad (the native 
city near Fatehgarh), twenty -six miles ahead. 


The distance covered that day had been twenty- 
three miles, but General Lake decided to make 
a night march to surprise the enemy, and so 
save the garrison of Fatehgarh. Accordingly, 
at nine o'clock in the evening, he moved on 
again with the three British cavalry regiments 
and Captain Clement Brown's battery of Horse 
Artillery, without any baggage whatever, leav- 
ing the remainder of the force to follow on 
next day. Just as the Light Dragoons were 
mounting, the good news reached General Lake 
that General Fraser had defeated Holkar's in- 
fantry brigades at Dig, and this intelligence 
made the cavalry doubly anxious to come up 
with the boasted Maratha horse, in order to 
give the finishing stroke to Holkar's power. 
Thorn, in his interesting account of the march, 
adds that the moon was up, and the night mild 
and pleasant, so that every one was cheered by 
the hope of finishing, by the night's work, their 
late harassing marches. The intelligence de- 
partment was admirably conducted by Major 
Salkeld, and reports concerning the enemy were 
received by him at intervals during the march. 

Just at daybreak on October 17, the head 
of the British column reached the outskirts 
of the enemy's camp. They found the horses 
still picketed, while the Marathas, wrapped in 


their blankets, slept beside them. There were 
no outposts, and the first warning of the ap- 
proach of Lake was given by the discharge of 
several rounds of grape from the Horse Artillery, 
directed where the enemy lay most thickly. 
The 8th Light Dragoons, who were leading, 
galloped into the camp, charging and cutting 
down the Marathas in every direction, the 
27th and 29th doing the same as soon as 
they could come up ; so that in a short time 
the whole plain was covered with dead bodies. 

The Marathas had no thought but flight, 
and Holkar was among the first to escape. 
He, like Lake, had heard of the battle of Dig 
on the previous evening, and the bad news 
had kept him awake all night, though he had 
not informed his officers of what had happened. 
His spies had told him of Lake's position at 
Aliganj, thirty miles away, and we may fairly 
imagine Holkar calculating on having time to 
destroy the small garrison of Fatehgarh next 
morning, and to capture (or slay, according to 
his fancy) the European civil servants and 

Shortly before the British cavalry arrived at 
the Maratha camp, an ammunition waggon be- 
longing to Captain Brown's battery blew up. 
Holkar heard and was alarmed by the sound, 

holkar's flight. 331 

but his servants assured him that it was the 
usual morning gun at Fatehgarh. Soon after- 
wards came the roar of Brown's guns at close 
quarters, followed by the trampling of many 
horses and the wild shouts of the Royal Irish 
Light Dragoons. Holkar was in the saddle in 
a moment, and fled, protected by his faithful 
bodyguard, not stopping, it is said, till he was 
eighteen miles on the way to Mainpuri. The 
Marathas were hunted in every direction for 
ten miles, and most authorities agree that not 
less than 3000 of them fell in the charge and 
pursuit. Thorn, who was present, says that 
many, whose horses were more exhausted than 
those of the British cavalry, climbed for safety 
into the mango-trees that grew thickly around. 
Here they might have escaped but for their 
rash courage in opening fire with their match- 
locks on the rear squadrons of the dragoons 
as they came up. They were therefore dis- 
covered and pistolled, so that numbers tumbled 
lifeless from the trees. Thorn calculated that, 
by the time they had ridden back into 
camp at Farakhabad, the British cavalry had 
covered considerably over seventy miles in 
twenty - four hours, — an effort, as he remarks, 
" probably unparalleled in the annals of military 
history, especially when it is remembered that 


it was made after a long and harassing march 
of 350 miles in the space of a fortnight." 

Thorn gives his distances in round numbers, 
but he is a careful writer, narrating facts 
within his own knowledge; and as cavalry 
always covers much more ground than is esti- 
mated by following marches on the map, his 
calculation may be taken as an accurate descrip- 
tion of a remarkable exploit. 

Lake's loss in this affair was very slight, 
only two dragoons being killed and about 
twenty wounded. There were also seventy-five 
casualties among the horses. Holkar's loss was 
far fi-om being limited to the number kUled at 
Farakhabad. It is, indeed, stated by several 
writers that half his force deserted after the 
surprise, and returned to their homes. This de- 
fection is said to have amounted to 30,000 men. 
Holkar's intention in making for Farakhabad 
had been to plunder the town, which was rich 
and prosperous, carrying on a considerable trade 
with other places on the Ganges. He had 
already (on October 16) burned part of the 
barracks and officers' bungalows at Fatehgarh, 
as the cantonment was called, and nothing 
could have saved the European civilian popula- 
tion and garrison but the wonderful march of 
Lake and his Light Dragoons. 


The British force halted two days at Fateh- 
garh to rest after their exertions, during 
which time the Horse Artillery battery had 
the pleasure of firing three royal salutes for 
as many victories, — their own, that of General 
Fraser at Dig, and for the capture of Chandur, 
Holkar's only stronghold in the Deccan, which 
had been taken by a force under Colonel 

On the morning of October 19 the reserve 
brigade and other troops arrived at Fatehgarh 
from Aliganj : among them was Skinner's Horse ; 
and in the evening General Lake ordered 
Skinner to pursue Holkar and find out where 
he had gone. Skinner accordingly left all his 
baggage, sick men, and galled horses, and started 
off with 600 sowars at 2 A.M. on October 20. 
He reached Mainpuri that same evening in 
time to save the lives of the officers and 
civilians there, Holkar having heard that Lake 
was coming up, and having hurriedly fled again. 

On the 21st Skinner again came up with 
Holkar and took a hundred prisoners. On these 
men Skinner played a trick which he relates 
with great glee in his memoirs. " Telling them 
that my corps considered them as brethren, I 
gave them their liberty, but advised them to 
take care not to fall into the hands of the 


dragoons, who were but a few hours behind, 
and bade them give my salaam to Holkar." 
Thankful for this treatment, Holkar's sowars 
improved on their instructions, telling him that 
they had seen General Lake and his dragoons. 
" This," said Skinner, " made him fly faster than 
ever, but I kept hanging on his rear, marching 
20 to 25 kos a day (40 to 50 miles) until he 
crossed the Jumna near Muttra. In this hard 
seven days' work I had no provisions but what 
the fields afforded, and neither tents nor bazaar 
with us. The horses were never unsaddled, and 
we rested with the bagdoor (halter) in our 
hands all night, having frequently to change 
our ground two or three times during each 
night to avoid a surprise from Holkar. In 
this pursuit I acquired great plunder in horses 
and camels. We lived on the green jowar that 
was standing in the fields, which we prepared 
by husking it out and putting it into large 
pots, adding ghee and meat, and boiling the 
whole together. It was then served out in 
earthen pots, my share being always brought 
me by the men, who showed me great love and 
attention, and were willing to act as my private 
servants, and tried in every way to please me 
and add to my comfort ; but I felt the want 
of my dram. 


" Four days after . . . General Lake arrived, 
and the corps paraded to receive him. He came 
up and praised them highly, promised that their 
services should never be forgotten, and said 
that they had, by their exertions, secured per- 
manent bread for their lives. On me also he 
bestowed high commendations, giving me a 
horse with silver trappings, which had been 
sent him by some Bajah, and told me to go 
back to Alleegurh and rest for a month, and 
recruit my corps to 1700 strong, for he should 
soon require my services again." 

This interesting passage aflfords a vivid picture 
of the old irregular Indian cavalry at their 
work, and shows also how well Lake knew 
how to secure their devotion. 

On October 20 General Lake's force marched 
from Fatehgarh for Dig, towards which fortress 
Holkar and the remainder of his force were 
reported to have retired. As Lake went on 
his way he found more and more proof of the 
terrible losses sujBPered by the Marathas at 
Farakhabad. The villages were all full of 
wounded, most of whom died. 

The Zemindars and people of the Doab, who 
before that action had all been ready to join 
Holkar and turn against the British, were now 
full of protestations of loyalty. They had only 


been deterred from showing their hand by the 
punishment of the town of Shamli, and that 
well-timed act of severity had doubtless averted 
infinitely greater and more widespread suffering, 
— a lesson that English sentimentalists would 
do well to remember. 

In letters to Lord Mornington, written im- 
mediately after his arrival at Fatehgarh, Lake 
congratulated himself on the complete success 
of his march. Had it failed in any way, he 
stated, the Sikhs and BohiUas would all have 
joined Holkar, and the whole of Upper India 
would have been in arms against the British. 
As it was, the Bhartpur Baja, who owed every- 
thing to them, had alone thrown off all disguise. 
For this hostility Lake declared that the Baja 
must be immediately punished, — a suggestion 
which was formally approved by Lord Morn- 
ington. The Baja, indeed, deserves no sym- 
pathy. The ruler of the very ancient tribe of 
Jats, Baja Banjit Singh of Bhartpur, became 
a tributary of Madhaji Sindhia in 1785. He 
was among the first to desert his master and 
form an alliance with the British after Lake's 
victory before Delhi. He now, thinking from 
Monson's reverse that the tide had turned, 
again changed his side. Baja Banjit Singh, 
who must not be confused with his famous 


namesake and contemporary the ruler of the 
Sikhs, possessed a fortress of great size and 
strength in Bhartpur, the capital town of his 
state, which is said at this time to have con- 
tained 50,000 fighting men within its massive 
ramparts of beaten mud. Before dealing with 
General Lake's unfortunate operations against 
this formidable fortress we must, however, re- 
turn to Delhi and follow the operations of the 
force left there, under Major - General Fraser, 
when Lake set out on his hunt after Holkar. 

General Fraser, whose force on leaving Delhi 
consisted of the 76th Regiment and six battalions 
of Native Infantry, with about twenty 6-pounder 
guns, marched from the Moghul capital on 
November 5, and on reaching Govardhan, about 
eight miles from Dig, on November 10, was 
joined by the 1st Bengal European Regiment.^ 
His total strength was still under 6000 men. 

Dig, or Deeg, as the name used to be written, 
is a fortified town standing on a rocky site 
twenty miles east of Muttra, and is a part of 
the State of Bhartpur. On November 1 1 General 
Fraser reconnoitred the Maratha position, and 
moved at night to a position about two and a half 
miles east of Dig, close to the village of Bheij. 
Between this village and Dig was a marsh. 

' Now the Ist Battalion Boyal Munater Fusilie^. 


The Maratha army, consisting of twenty-four 
battalions, a considerable number of horse, and 
160 guns, more than half of which were 16- or 
18 -pounders, was encamped between the fortress 
of Dig and the village of Kasba Au. This 
village, which was fortified, guarded the Maratha 
right, and their left rested on Dig, the garrison 
of which place now openly showed the alliance 
of their Kaja with Holkar. 

On November 12 Major-General Fraser con- 
tinued his observation of the Maratha position, 
and in spite of the great strength of the enemy 
and their advantageous position, decided to 
attack. The small British force marched at 
three o'clock in the morning of November 13, 
two battalions of Native Infantry forming the 3rd 
Brigade, with the irregular horse, being detailed 
as escort to the baggage, with orders to follow 
the advance. The whole attacking force marched 
round the intervening swamp and made towards 
the Maratha right. On approaching the village 
of Kasba Au the advance of the British column 
was observed and the Marathas opened a distant 
fire. General Fraser now deployed his force into 
two lines, each brigade forming one line and the 
European battalions taking the centre of each 
line. The cavalry was placed on the left, that 
flank being threatened by the enemy's horse. 


As soon as the infantry had deployed, the 
village of Kasba Au was carried without diffi- 
culty. This village, as is commonly the case 
in India, stood on a slight eminence, and from 
it the enemy's position could be clearly seen, 
consisting of a succession of batteries and en- 
trenchments running back almost to the walls 
of Dig. 

As the 1st Brigade issued from the village 
they came under a severe cross-fire of artillery ; 
but the 76th instantly ran forward down the 
hill and captured the nearest battery, bayonet- 
ing the Maratha gunners at their post. 

The charge of the 76th had carried them far 
in advance of the remaining battalions of the 
1st Brigade, and when the 2nd Brigade cleared 
the village, their centre battalion, the Bengal 
European Regiment, rushed forward to the 
support of the 76th. The Native Infantry 
battalions on the left of each line advanced 
to the support of the British battalions, but 
those on the right (the 1st Battalion 2nd, and 
the 2nd Battalion 15th) took ground to the 
right, under Major Hammond, to check a 
threatened attack by a large body of Marathas 
from the lower end of the swamp. General 
Fraser accompanied the Bengal Europeans, and 
was mortally wounded in the captured battery, 


his leg being carried off by a cannon-shot. The 
command consequently devolved on Brigadier- 
General Monson. 

Monson, quite in his element, cheered on 
the infantry, who captured battery after battery 
at the point of the bayonet, until they came 
under the close fire of Dig and suffered con- 
siderable loss. In the meantime, a body of the 
enemy's horse came round, re -took the guns 
in the position first captured by the 76th, and 
turned them against oiu* troops. The reserve 
brigade had not yet come up, and there was 
no one to stop this dangerous fire until Captain 
Norford of the 76th, with only twenty -eight 
men, charged back and again captured the guns, 
losing his own life in performing this gallant 
and valuable exploit. 

During all this time the two Native Infantry 
battalions which had moved off to guard the 
right flank had been hard pressed by the superior 
artillery -fire of the enemy. Brigadier -General 
Monson, however, finding it necessary to draw 
back from the fortress of Dig, and seeing the 
situation of Major Hammond's two battalions, 
now brought the fire of several of his guns to 
bear on the brigade of Marathas opposed to 
Hammond. Under the fire of his guns Monson 
also brought his own four battalions up against 


the Marathas, who made a precipitate retreat 
into the marsh, where many perished, including 
two of Holkar's principal officers. At the same 
time the 3rd Brigade, under Lieut. -Colonel Ball, 
arrived on the scene and proceeded to secure 
the captured guns and carry the British wounded 
into a place of safety. In this task the 3rd 
Brigade was assisted by the two native cavalry 
regiments, under Lieut. -Colonel T. Brown,^ who 
had covered the advance of the infantry at 
the beginning of the battle and had success- 
fully held off the large mounted force of the 
Marathas throughout the day's fighting. This 
performance was a remarkable one, for Lieut. - 
Colonel Brown had only 484 sabres in action 
in his two regiments. 

The British force encamped on the field of 
battle, their front guarded by a cavalry picquet 
on the rising ground near the first Maratha 
position, and about half-way between the British 
camp and the fortress of Dig. 

The battle of Dig was won entirely by hard 
fighting. General Fraser's wound proving 
mortal, he was unable to write any despatch, 
and it is therefore impossible to say what 
his precise intentions were regarding the 
conduct of the fight. The Marathas' position, 

' Afterwards Major-General Sir Thomas Brown, E.C.B. 


however, was unassailable save by a frontal 
attack, and the resolution having been formed 
to make this attack, it would appear that 
Monson performed his task bravely and well. 
An unfriendly critic^ has stated that General 
Eraser's plans for the battle were admirable, 
and that, after his fall, Monson made no 
attempt to carry them out, neglecting to 
make use of his native troops and concerning 
himself only with leading the 76th and Bengal 
Europeans. There appears to be little, if 
any, truth in this accusation, and Monson 
must be considered fortunate in obtaining this 
opportunity of regaining his military reputa- 
tion, and in having made a good use of it. 

The British casualties in the battle of Dig 
were very severe, amounting to 643, including 
21 officers. The Maratha losses were, how- 
ever, much heavier, it being believed that 
nearly 2000 were either killed or drowned in 
attempting to effect their escape. 

The captured guns numbered 87, and among 
them were 14 guns and 1 howitzer which 
had been captured in Monson's retreat. There 
were also six 18 -pounders, presented in 1792 
to the Marathas at Seringapatam, they being 

1 " A Military Autobiography " in the ' East Indian United 
Service Journal,' vol. ii. 


then our allies, — an interesting token of the 
shifting conditions of Indian policy at this 
period. In Brigadier-General Monson's report 
on the battle of Dig, the mentions of officers 
were confined to commanding officers and the 
staff. When forwarding the report to the 
Governor - General, General Lake generously 
stated his opinion that the victory surpassed 
anything that had previously been done in 
India, and expressed his belief that, in con- 
junction with his own defeat of Holkar, it 
had practically ended the war. 

Monson unhappily displayed his fatal want 
of judgment immediately after the victory, 
writing to Lake that he intended to fall back 
on Muttra for supplies. Lake justly com- 
mented on this proposal that, as there were 
ample supplies at Muttra, Monson should have 
drawn them from there, for which purpose he 
could easily have detached two regiments after 
his victory : to fall back from Dig would be 
looked upon by the natives as tantamount to 
a retreat. Monson's retirement was indeed a 
glaring error, for which there was no excuse. 
It enabled some of Holkar's army to escape 
and other portions to enter Dig, and it gave 
the necessary encouragement to Holkar to con- 
tinue the war. 


General Lake, who had left Fatehgarh on 
November 20, hurried to Muttra to take over 
charge of the army before Monson could do 
any worse mischief, and arrived there on the 

The Raja of Bhartpur, to whom Dig belonged, 
was now an open foe, instead of a treacherous 
ally. He had, as already stated, concluded a 
treaty with the British Government after the 
battle of Delhi, by which the possession of his 
territories had been guaranteed to him. He 
had, moreover, subsequently received, as a free 
gift, lands nearly equal in value to one -third 
of his original possessions. The Raja, almost 
immediately after the conclusion of the treaty, 
entered into a secret correspondence with 
Holkar, and during the retreat of Monson's 
detachment showed his intentions more boldly. 
The climax was reached during the battle of 
Dig, when a party of Bhartpur horse took an 
active share in the fighting, and the fortress, 
which belonged to the Raja, opened fire on 
our infantry as they were capturing the posi- 
tions held by Holkar's troops. General Lake 
therefore decided to use his discretionary powers 
and to commence immediate operations against 
the Raja, in anticipation of the Governor- 
General's approval. Lord Mornington, on Decem- 


ber 20, formally approved of General Lake's 
proceedings, but Dig had fallen some days 
before the arrival of his despatch. 

Lake had advanced from Muttra on December 
1, moving towards Dig, the garrison of which 
place had been raised to great strength by 
the inclusion of a portion of Holkar's infantry 
and a number of his guns, which had escaped 
capture in the battle of November 13. On 
December 2 the army encamped in sight of 
Dig, and halted for nine days, pending the 
arrival of the reserve brigade and a small 
battering-train, which were marching from Agra 
under Lieut.- Colonel Don. During the halt 
General Lake moved out repeatedly to recon- 
noitre the country about Dig, on which occasions 
Holkar's cavalry showed considerable boldness. 

The troops arrived from Agra on December 
10, and on the following day the army marched 
in two columns 600 yards apart. The inter- 
mediate space was occupied by the artillery, 
baggage, and provision train ; the reserve brigade 
formed an advanced -guard ; and the picquets, 
strengthened by a regiment of cavalry, formed 
a rear-guard. The camp-followers were still 
inordinately numerous, and in the great square, 
formed as described, there marched, writes Thorn, 
"not less than 60,000 human beings, 200 ele- 


phants, 2000 camels, and 100,000 bullocks, at a 
very moderate estimate." The army encamped 
near the fortified village of Kasha Au, and on 
December 13 proceeded, in the same order of 
march as on the 11th, to the position selected 
by the Commander-in-Chief for his attack on 
the fortress. The ground selected for the en- 
campment lay to the west of the town of Dig, 
which was of considerable size, the circuit of 
the walls being 4f miles. The town was sur- 
rounded by lofty walls, with round bastions 
connected by earthen ramparts. Within the 
town was a citadel of about 150 yards 
square, with ramparts 70 to 100 feet high 
and 20 to 50 feet thick, surrounded by a wet 
ditch. At the time of the attack the town 
walls mounted thirty-one guns of all sizes, from 
74-pounder8 to 4-pounders. The point chosen for 
attack was the south - west angle, which is 
formed by a small enclosed work called the 
Shdh Biirj, about 50 yards square, having an 
exposed masonry wall 36 feet high, which 
could be breached from a distance. Five 
hundred yards south of this is a detached 
work called Gopdl Garh. 

Having taken up his position, General Lake 
immediately opened his trenches against the 
fortress, the reserve, under Colonel Don, first 


driving the Marathas from the grove of trees 
from which it was desired to commence opera- 
tions. The Pioneers, under Captain Swinton 
and Lieutenant Forrest, immediately broke 
ground, and worked so quickly through the 
night that before daylight they had completed 
a small parallel 300 yards long, and two small 
batteries. On the evening of December 14 
volunteers from the three British cavalry 
regiments began the construction of a breach- 
ing battery within 750 yards of the Shdh Biirj. 
This battery was within easy range of the 
detached fort of Gopdl Garh, which was crowded 
with matchlock-men, whose fire greatly annoyed 
the working parties. Lake was apparently bent 
on his main object, the capture of the entire 
fortress, and would not spare the time that 
would have been taken up by the previous 
capture of Gopal Garh. The work on the 
breaching battery was therefore hurried on, 
and it was able to open fire with fourteen 
guns on the morning of December 17. Their 
fire, however, proved very ineffectual, and on 
the 20th a second battery, at even closer 
range, was erected, in order to bring a cross- 
fire on the breach. The Marathas, on their 
part, had used their guns with considerable 
skill, and had managed to enfilade both the 


British batteries, until Colonel Horsford silenced 
their fire by distributing his own guns in 
several localities about the plain. The author 
of "A Military Autobiography" says that the 
enemy were throwing shells which, as they 
were known to have come into their hands 
during the retreat on Agra, were greeted 
whenever they burst with cries of "Thank 
you, Colonel Monson ! " 

Beside the reinforcement which they had 
afforded to the garrison of Dig, part of Holkar's 
infantry were entrenched outside the walls, and 
also held the ravines near the British attack, 
thus adding greatly to the difficulties of the 

At length a practicable breach was reported, 
an assault was ordered, and at half-past eleven 
on the night of December 23 a storming -party 
moved down to the trenches. The force detailed 
for the assault was divided into three columns. 
The right column, consisting of four companies 
of the Bengal European Regiment and five 
companies 1st Battalion 12th Native Infantry, 
under Captain Kelly, was ordered to carry 
the enemy's batteries outside the fortress, 
between the Shdh Burj and Gropdl Garh — that 
is, on the right of the main attack. The left 
column, composed of a like number of companies 


of the same regiments, under Major Radcliffe, 
was to carry the entrenchments and batteries 
on the left of the main attack. The centre 
column, led by Lieut. -Colonel Macrae, consisting 
of the flank companies of the 22nd, 76th, and 
Bengal European regiments and the 1st Bat- 
talion 8th Native Infantry, was to storm the 
breach in the Shdh Biirj. 

The centre column found the plain under the 
breach so covered with the debris of the broken 
walls that its progress in the darkness was 
seriously impeded. The outer columns conse- 
quently came into action first, springing into 
the enemy's outworks, which they soon suc- 
ceeded in capturing, forcing the enemy to seek 
cover within the fortress, and securing the guns, 
which they spiked. 

In the meantime Macrae's column, having 
with great difficulty crossed the plain, formed 
up for the attack under cover of the waUs of 
the fortress, and the order to storm having 
been given by Macrae, a rush was made up 
the incline. The leading files, scrambling over 
the broken masonry, gained the breach, when 
there ensued a desperate fight for its possession. 
The first few men who forced their way through 
the breach were sabred by the enemy ; but the 
rest of the column quickly followed, and. 


favoured by the darkness, flocked through the 
breach, and charging forward, carried the south- 
west bastion of the Shdh Biirj. The enemy's 
artillerymen showed great courage and deter- 
mination, fighting with their tulwars against 
the bayonets of our soldiers, until at last, over- 
powered, they lay in mangled heaps around 
their guns. 

One of the first to mount the breach was 
Charles Metcalfe, afterwards Lord Metcalfe, 
then a young civilian aged nineteen, who had 
been despatched from Calcutta by Lord Wellesley 
to act as civil attach^ to the Commander-in- 
Chief. It is believed that some of the oflBcers 
of Lake's staff" had resented the presence of a 
civil officer in the field, and that Metcalfe took 
this opportunity of showing his martial instincts. 
General Lake mentioned Metcalfe's gallantry in 
his despatch, and ever after spoke of him as 
"my young stormer." Metcalfe was the 
nephew by marriage of Colonel Monson, his 
mother being the sister of Mrs Monson. 

Kelly's and Radcliffe's columns now joined 
Macrae in the captured bastion ; and having 
re-formed, the united force attacked the main 
walls of the fortress to the south and west, 
most of the bastions being carried at the 
point of the bayonet. 


The British column now formed up inside the 
waUs and advanced towards the gate of the 
citadel. Preparations were made for its capture, 
and Lieutenant G. Pollock,^ Bengal Artillery, 
was detailed to blow in the gate. 

Some unavoidable delay occurred before the 
citadel could be assaulted, and its garrison, who 
had been alarmed by the determined attack of 
our troops on the Shah Biirj, took advantage 
of the respite afforded them and stole secretly 
away during the night of December 24, mak- 
ing for Bhartpur. Thus on Christmas morning, 
after a siege of twelve days. Dig was in 
General Lake's hands. 

The cost of the operations was by no means 
heavy, the killed numbering 4 officers and 39 
men ; 13 officers and 171 men were wounded. 
Captain Effingham Lindsay, who commanded 
the flank companies of the 22nd, received two 
wounds, and three of his subalterns were 
wounded. Among other casualties in the 22nd 
was Sergeant Shipp, of whom we shall hear 

The capture of Dig appears to have been, in 
a considerable measure, due to the neglect of 
the Marathas to repair the breach in the Shdh 
Biirj prior to the assault. Their neglect to 

' Afterwards Field-Marshal Sir George Pollock. 


do SO is probably attributable to over-confidence 
in the strong works outside the fortress, which 
might well have been expected to hold their 
own against the weak flanking columns of 

The British -Indian infantry, indeed, showed 
very fine fighting quality in the assault at 
Dig, and the easy triumph which resulted con- 
tributed, with that at Aligarh, to encourage 
General Lake in his belief that his army, if 
boldly led, could achieve any capture. For this 
belief he was, unfortunately, soon to sufier. 

In his despatch General Lake laid special 
stress on the good services of Colonel Horsford 
and the artillery, thanking also the leaders of 
the three columns of assault, and in addition, 
Lieut. - Colonel Ball of the 1st Battalion 8th 
Native Infantry, Captain Lindsay of the 22nd 
Regiment, and Captain Robertson and Lieu- 
tenant Smith of the Engineers. Both of the 
officers of Pioneers, Captain Swinton and Lieu- 
tenant Forrest, were severely wounded during 
the operations, Lieutenant Forrest sustaining 
twenty-one wounds. He was left on the ground 
for dead, but recovered with the loss of an arm. 

One hundred guns were captured at Dig, and 
the loss of life among the Jats and Marathas 
was great. 


John Shipp states in his memoirs that when 
the British army marched into Dig they found 
five companies of sepoys who had deserted 
during Colonel Monson's retreat. The sepoys, 
wearing the uniform in which they had deserted, 
stood "outside the principal gate of the fort, 
with their arms ordered, without apparently 
making any resistance, and frequently crying 
out, ' Englishmen, Englishmen, pray do not kill 
us; for God's sake do not kill us.' As these 
supplications," continues the worthy Shipp, 
" proceeded rather from fear than from penitence 
for the crime they had been guilty of, — that of 
deserting to an enemy, — these men could ex- 
pect no mercy. We had positive orders to 
give them no quarter, and they were most of 
them shot." The order to give no quarter 
was probably directed against the garrison of 
Hinglazgarh, who are said by Colonel Skinner 
to have entered Holkar's service. 

General Lake left the 1st Battalion 4th 
Native Infantry in garrison and marched from 
Dig for Bhartpur on December 28. He was 
joined on the 31st, while on the march thither, 
by Major -General DowdeswelP with the 75th 

' Major-General Dowdeswell was an officer of the Guards who 
had served under Lake at Lincelles. He had accompanied Lord 
William Bentinck to Madras as private secretary, and, on promo- 



Regiment and a convoy of stores. After this 
reinforcement the strength of the army was 
about 7800 men, thus composed : — 

British cavalry .... 800 

Native t. . . 1600 

British infantry .... 1000 

Native i, .... 4400 

The Engineer department was represented by 
three officers and three companies of Pioneers, 
each under an infantry officer. The ordnance 
comprised 61 guns and 18 howitzers and mor- 
tars, manned by 15 officers and 200 European 
artillerymen, with about 800 native gun-lascars 
and golunddz, part of whom had recently joined 
from Sindhia's service. Of the 61 guns, only 
six 18 -pounders were heavy enough for siege 

With this weak and Ql-equipped force General 
Lake had to choose between two tasks, for 
either of which it was inadequate. He could 
either leave the Eaja of Bhartpur to be dealt 
with subsequently and devote his energies to 
the pursuit of Holkar, or he might decide to 
attack Bhartpur, and so, by its capture and 

tion to Major-General, was requested to join the army in the field. 
After the close of the operations at Bhartpur Greneral Dowdeswell 
commanded the troops in the Doab. He subsequently retired from 
the army and became well known as a print-collector. 


that of the remaining strongholds in that state, 
which were of no strength, deprive Holkar of 
his last -remaining footing in Hindustan, and 
ensure his eventual destruction. 

Lake, as we already know, had decided on 
the second course. His cavalry were for the 
time in no condition to undertake another rapid 
pursuit of Holkar, and Skinner had been 
despatched to Aligarh to raise more irregulars. 
These could not take the field for a couple of 
months at any rate, and Lake therefore decided 
to utilise this period by the capture of Bhartpur. 
He apparently felt no doubt of his ability to 
perform this task, in spite of the weakness of 
his army and the inadequacy of his siege 
artillery, and the history of the war justified 
him in his confidence. Aligarh, Agra, and 
Gwalior were among the strongest fortresses in 
India, and, until the coming of Lake, had 
been considered impregnable; yet Aligarh had 
been captured in a morning, and Agra and 
Gwalior had surrendered to avoid a storm. 
Dig, also a powerful and strongly garrisoned 
town, had just fallen a very easy prey to his arms. 
Lake cannot be fairly blamed for believing that 
he would be equally successful at Bhartpur. 

Lake therefore began the New Year by march- 
ing confidently forward, his army as light-hearted 


as himself, and on January 2, 1805, he encamped 
about two miles south-west of Bhartpur. The 
march had been a long and tedious one, and 
the troops therefore gladly rested on the follow- 
ing day, while the quartermasters' establish- 
ments of the various corps were employed in 
collecting materials for fascines and gabions, 
and in constructing them under the superintend- 
ence of Lieutenant Robertson, the senior officer 
of Engineers. 

The fortress of Bhartpur, now to become 
famous, stands upon a plain amidst jungle and 
water, and is distant about thirty miles W.N.W. 
of Agra. The town has a perimeter of about 
five miles, and in 1805 was surrounded by an 
immense mud wall of very rude design, but 
practically impervious to artillery fire. Outside 
the wall was a wet ditch of varying depth. 
The garrison is believed to have amounted to 
50,000 men, amply provided with food and 
military stores : large numbers of guns were 
mounted on the bastions, and Holkar was out- 
side, with a large force, to hamper the besieg- 
ing army. The point of attack having already 
been chosen, the encampment was located so as 
to face it, and on the evening of January 3 a 
party of infantry with two guns, under Lieut. - 
Colonel Maitlaud, 75th Hegiment, occupied a 


garden surrounded by a low mud wall, distant 
about 1200 yards from the wall of Bhartpur. 
From this garden one bastion, with part of the 
ramparts, was visible, the view elsewhere being 
obstructed by dense jungle. About 500 yards in 
advance of this garden, or 700 yards from the 
rampart, a breaching battery for six 18 -pounders 
was constructed. On either side of it, and about 
400 yards apart, two small fortified posts were 
constructed, in order to protect the battery from 
enfilade fire from the adjoining jungle. The 
battery opened fire early on January 7, work hav- 
ing been pushed forward with the utmost haste ; 
but as it had been built entirely of brushwood, 
and constructed so hastily, the fire was therefore 
not directed on the exact point of the curtain 
that it had been intended to breach. The point 
of attack being now made evident, the enemy 
occupied positions outside the walls from which 
they could bring a flanking fire on any attacking 
force, and also deepened the ditch in front of 
the incipient breach. 

During the night of the 7th trenches were 
dug connecting the battery with the two flank- 
ing posts, and eight mortars were placed on the 
right of the battery. 

On January 8 the augmented battery opened 
fire on the town and on the enemy's posts out- 


side the ditch, as well as on the breach, which 
was reported practicable in the course of the 
day. Efforts were also made, but without effect, 
to prevent the enemy from stockading and re- 
pairing the breach during the night following, 
on which the Commander-in-Chief intended to 
assault. On January 9, therefore, the breaching 
battery kept up a heavy fire all day, until at dusk 
the troops told off for the storming-party went 
to the front and compelled a cessation of the fire. 
The stormers were thus distributed : — 

Main Attack (Lieut. - Colonel Maitland, 75tli Begiment, 
commanding) — 

Flank Companies of the 22nd, 76th, 76th, and Eengal 
European Begiments. In aU about 500 men. 

1st Battalion 8th and 2nd Battalion 12th Native In- 

Four 6-poundeTs. 
Bight Attack (Major Hawkes commanding) — 

Two Companies 75th Begiment. 

1st Battalion 2nd Native Infantry. 

Two 6 -pounders. 
Left Attack (lieut.-Colonel Bayne^ commanding) — 

100 men of the Bengal European Begiment. 

2nd Battalion 22nd Native Infantry. 

Two 6-poundere. 

The main attack was headed by a forlorn -hope 
of twelve European volunteers, led by Sergeant 

' This officer, called Byan or Kyan in the despatches, was 
Colonel Bobert Bayne of the Bengal European Begimeot, a cadet 
of 1769, who became a Major-General in 1808, and died 1810. 


Shipp, 22nd Kegiment, who had been severely 
wounded at Dig. The orders to Major Hawkes 
were to attack the enemy's position near the 
Anah gate, and afterwards the gate itself. 
Should this prove impossible, he was to move 
to his left and proceed down to support the 
main attack. In like manner, Lieut. -Colonel 
Rayne was ordered to attack the Kumbhir 
gate, and if possible to carry it : he was also 
to support the main attack. 

The ground between their starting-point and 
the places they were ordered to attack had not 
been examined by any of the leaders of columns, 
nor were they provided with guides. The ground 
traversed was broken, and in many places there 
were deep pools of water. It is therefore almost 
a matter of surprise that any of them reached 
their objective. That the attack failed can 
cause no surprise whatever. 

The right column was the most successful, 
for Major Hawkes found the position before 
the Anah gate, captured it at the point of 
the bayonet, and spiked three of the guns. 
Instead, however, of carrying out his orders 
to attack the gate, he then proceeded to join 
the main attack. Lieut. -Colonel Kayne faUed to 
reach the Kumbhir gate, and was compelled 
to return. As for the main attack, a part only 


of the column reached the ditch. The flank 
companies of the 22nd Regiment did, however, 
succeed in arriving at a point opposite the 
hreach, and a party of twenty-three men, under 
Lieutenant Manser, crossed the ditch, though 
the water was breast-high. Lieutenant Manser 
ordered his men to sit down under cover, while 
he went in search of the rest of the column. 

The whole main attack, with the finest 
courage, gradually closed on the point of 
attack, and Lieut. -Colonel Maitland showed 
desperate determination, repeatedly leading 
small parties of men forward to the attack. 
After receiving several wounds, he was at last 
shot through the head and instantaneously 
kQled near the top of the breach. In these 
efibrts Maitland was seconded by many devoted 
officers ; but such isolated attacks could by no 
possibility succeed, and merely caused a fruitless 
loss of life. The defenders of Bhartpur had 
stockaded the breach, and during the attack 
and the subsequent retirement poured a terrific 
fire on the British columns while themselves 
in perfect safety. The first assault consequently 
failed with heavy loss, the killed numbering 
4 officers and 96 men, and the wounded 23 
officers and 341 men. The losses of the 
Europeans were very heavy, particularly in 


the flank companies of the 22nd and 75th 
Regiments, which latter regiment had its com- 
manding officer killed and 8 officers wounded. 
As only four companies of the regiment were 
engaged, it appears that most of the officers 
employed were killed or wounded. 

Disastrous as this attempt had proved. Lake 
and his army neither lost confidence nor 
slackened their effi)rts. On the contrary, two 
new batteries were constructed, in one of which 
were placed four 18 -pounders and two fresh 
24-pounders, brought over from Dig. Fire was 
concentrated on a portion of the curtain to the 
right of the bastion between the Anah and 
Kumbhir gates, the previous breach having 
been to the left of that bastion. The new 
breach was consequently nearer the Anah gate 
than the old one. 

On this breach the guns kept up a fairly 
heavy fire from January 15 to 20, and many 
shells were thrown into the town, causing a 
number of casualties among the crowded de- 
fenders. Among the slain was a brother of 
the Baja, who was killed while looking at the 
British dead lying in the old breach by a single 
aimed shell fired by Captain Nelly of the Bengal 
Artillery; and the eldest son of the Raja was 
also wounded in the arm by a chance shot. 


On January 18 Major-General Smith joined 
the army with three battalions of Native In- 
fantry and 100 European convalescents — in all, 
about 1600 men. General Smith, like Lake, 
had been an officer of the First Guards, in 
which regiment he served twenty - five years. 
He had also served under Lake in the cam- 
paign of 1793-94 in the Netherlands. Ismail 
Beg, an independent chief in Holkar's army, 
also joined the British, bringing with him 500 
of his followers. On the other hand, the Epaja 
of Bhartpur, who possessed great wealth, bought 
the alliance of Amir Khan by a gift of six 
lakhs of rupees. 

In view of a renewed assault, it was felt that a 
reconnaissance of the ground up to the ditch and 
an examination of the ditch itself were necessary. 
A reconnaissance in force was at first contem- 
plated, but as this would have entailed a heavy 
loss of life, an offer made by some volunteers was 
accepted. On January 20 a havildar and three 
troopers of the 3rd Bengal Cavalry, under pre- 
tence of being deserters, rode down to the ditch 
pursued and fired at by a party of sepoys. The 
horsemen succeeded in reaching the ditch and in 
riding along it as far as the Anah gate, but the 
reconnaissance thus effected was too hurried to 
be trustworthy. They reported that the new 


breach was practicable, and that the ditch in 
front of it was 28 feet wide and not deep.^ 
Three ladders, covered with laths and broad 
enough to carry two men abreast, had been 
prepared to act as floating ditches, and on this 
favourable report an assault was ordered for 
the following morning. On this occasion the 
troops detailed for the attack were taken into 
the trenches before daylight on January 21, with 
orders to advance about noon or whenever the 
batteries should have been able to destroy any 
repairs that the Marathas might have efi*ected 
at the breach. This took longer than was ex- 
pected, and it was not untU 3 p.m. that the 
attacking force left the trenches. It was divided 
into two columns, — the right, under Lieut. -Colonel 
Simpson, having orders to attack the Anah gate ; 
and the left, commanded by Lieut. - Colonel 
Macrae, 75th Regiment, being ordered to storm 
the breach. Lieut. -Colonel Macrae's column was 
headed by the following parties from the four 
British regiments : — 

120 of the r5th, 150 of the 76th, 100 of the 
First Bengal Europeans, and 50 of the flank 
companies of the 22nd. This party was led by 
Captain Lindsay of the 22nd, who had been 

1 One of these sowars was still serving in January 1826, and was 
present with his regiment at the capture of Bhartpur in that month. 


Beverely wounded at the assault of Dig, but now 
threw away his crutch and marched with his 
left arm in a sling. In support of the British 
detachments followed the 2nd Battalion 15th 
and the 2nd Battalion 22nd Native Infantry, 
and four 6-pounder guns, while the remainder 
of the 75th and 76th Regiments were ordered 
to form a covering party and to keep down the 
fire from the ramparts during the assault. A 
picked body of Europeans carried the portable 
bridges, in the use of which they had been prac- 
tised, and the scaling-ladders were entrusted to 
a party of native pioneers. Lieut. - Colonel 
Macrae moved straight on the breach, and on 
reaching a dry tank some 200 yards from it, 
he halted his column under cover of the bank 
and went forward himself with the bridges, 
scaling-ladders, and a small party of Europeans. 
On reaching the ditch, Macrae found that 
instead of being 28 feet it was 40 feet 
across. An attempt was made to lengthen the 
bridges by lashing scaling-ladders to them, but 
this failed. Lieutenant Morris, with some men 
of the Bengal European Regiment, swam the 
ditch and mounted the breach, Morris being 
twice wounded ; but it was ■ evident that no 
assault was possible, and Lieut. -Colonel Macrae 
wisely ordered a retirement. The right column 


meanwhile had reached the Anah gate, but 
failed to force it, and Lieut. -Colonel Simpson 
therefore united with the main column and 
assisted to carry away the four 6-pounders, which 
had gallantly come into action in the opening 
close to the breach and had suffered some loss. 
The second assault on Bhartpur was thus as 
complete a failure as the first, and for the same 
reason — insuflScient reconnaissance prior to the 
assault. On this occasion the breach was found 
practicable, and had more care been taken to 
ascertain how the ditch could be bridged, the 
assault would probably have succeeded. 

The casualties among the Europeans were 
18 officers and 284 men killed and wounded, 
and there were 285 casualties in the native 
regiments engaged. The European portion of 
the main column, being in front, suffered ter- 
ribly. Of the 50 men of the 22nd, 41 were 
killed or wounded, and the gallant Sergeant 
Shipp, who led as usual, was dangerously 
wounded. The 120 of the 75th lost 111, the 
150 of the 76th lost 75, and the 100 Bengal 
Europeans lost 40. Nearly all the officers 
of the European detachments were killed or 
wounded. The gallant Captain Lindsay ^ of the 

' Captain Effingham Lindsay became a major-general in the 
Gazette on the accession of William IV. 


22nd lost his leg; the 75th had three officers 
wounded ; and the 76th, already so cruelly 
reduced, had two officers killed and three 
wounded. The enemy disgraced themselves 
by barbarously murdering all the wounded who 
could not be carried away. This massacre took 
place in fuU view of the British trenches, and 
seriously affected the moral of the army. 

Amir Khan had now appeared on the scenes, 
and while the second assault was in progress 
the whole plain in rear of Lake's army was 
covered by his cavalry and that of Holkar and 
the Bhartpur Kaja. Lake, with his cavalry and 
horse artillery, moved out to cover the camp, 
and inflicted some loss on the enemy ; but the 
British camp was for a time as much besieged 
as was Bhartpur itself. 

Lake published a General Order warmly 
thanking the troops engaged in the second 
assault for their gallantry and steadiness, and 
assuring the army of his confidence that, in a 
very few days, this good conduct and courage 
would be rewarded by the possession of Bhartpur. 

After the failure of the second assault the 
army lay inactive before the fortress for a con- 
siderable time. It was necessary to select an 
easier point of attack, and at first there was 
also a scarcity of supplies. General Lake was 


also watching for an opportunity of dealing a 
blow at Holkar and Amir Khan. 

While efforts were being made to find a weak 
point in the defences of Bhartpur, two convoys 
were despatched, from Muttra and Agra respec- 
tively, carrying provisions to the army. The 
Muttra convoy, of 12,000 bullocks, guarded by 
a few matchlock -men, was met on January 22 
by the 1st Bengal Cavalry and the 1st Bat- 
talion 15th Native Infantry, under Captain 
Walsh of the former corps, — an insufficient force 
for the purpose. Amir Khan, hearing of the 
weakness of Walsh's detachment, attacked him 
on the march at the head of 8000 horse and 
foot, with four guns. Captain Walsh took post 
in a village and defended as much of the convoy 
as he could collect, but was about to be crushed 
by superior numbers when rescued by Lieut. - 
Colonel Need, at the head of the 27th Light 
Dragoons and the 2nd Bengal Cavalry. The 
gallant escort, seeing the dust raised by Need's 
regiments, imagined that General Lake, with 
all the cavalry, was coming to their rescue, and 
were so animated as to sally forth from their 
village and make a vigorous bayonet charge on 
Am ir Khan's infantry, 600 of whom were killed, 
being deserted by their cavalry. Amir Khan 
himself narrowly escaped capture, getting away 


on foot and in disguise. Of the 12,000 bullock- 
loads of grain, however, but 1800 reached the 
army. It is to be regretted that Captain 
Walsh, when he saw the cavalry coming to 
his assistance, could not refrain from exclaim- 
ing, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." 

On the day after this affair, Greneral Lake 
despatched a strong escort of three regiments 
of cavalry and three battalions of infantry under 
Lieut. -Colonel Patrick Don to Agra, to guard 
the second convoy, which was a very large and 
important one, consisting of 50,000 bullocks 
carrying grain, 800 bullock-carts of stores and 
ammunition (including 8000 rounds of 18-pounder 
shot for the breaching battery), and six lakhs 
of rupees. This immense convoy left Agra on 
January 28, and proved an irresistible bait to 
Amir Khan and his allies. Holkar, Amir Khan, 
and Bapuji Sindhia aU sallied forth with a large 
force of infantry and every mounted man they 
had at their command. When this force, for- 
midable at least in numbers, was well away 
from Bhartpur, Lake fearlessly pursued them 
with the remainder of his cavalry and two bat- 
talions of infantry. The enemy were so alarmed 
at finding themselves between the convoy and 
Lake's force, that far from endeavouring to 
capture the convoy, they sheered off to a re- 

AMIR khan's raid. 369 

spectful distance, and the convoy was eventually 
brought into camp without the loss of a bullock. 

The Kaja of Bhartpur now saw that he was 
getting a very poor return for the six lakhs of 
rupees that he had given to Amir Khan, and 
taunted the latter with his failure. Amir Khan, 
who had relied on filling his pockets, and had 
lost both men and reputation instead of so 
doing, was also discontented. He therefore 
determined to make a raid into Rohilkhand, his 
native country, thinking that he would there 
obtain ample plunder, and that Lake could not 
spare troops to pursue him. He had good 
reason to suppose so, but little knew Lake's 
dauntless courage and determination. 

Amir Khan therefore left the allied army and 
crossed the Jumna on February 7 with his 
whole mounted force and as many of Holkar's 
irregulars as were willing to accompany him. 
Lake, on the following day, despatched Major- 
General Smith in pursuit with the Horse Artil- 
lery, the three British cavalry regiments, and 
the 1st, 3rd, and 6th Bengal Cavalry. Charles 
Metcalfe accompanied General Smith as political 
adviser, and rendered valuable services. Amir 
Khan's raid was entirely frustrated, for Major- 
General Smith's force followed him so closely 

through the Doab that he had no time for 

2 A 


operations against the large towns, which alone 
were worth robbing. On passing Aligarh (Feb- 
ruary 11), General Smith picked up Captain 
Skinner with 500 of his horse, who did excel- 
lent service. During the pursuit the whole 
British force forded the Ganges at a point 
where it was nearly a mile wide, though the 
stream, at the time of crossing, was not more 
than half that width. 

On arriving at Moradabad (February 18) the 
cavalry found Mr Leycester,^ the collector, gal- 
lantly defending his house, which he had con- 
verted into a miniatiu"e fortress. Aided by 
the local residents and their servants and a few 
militia, Mr Leycester had successfully repulsed 
several assaults, when General Smith's force for- 
tunately came up and prevented an inevitable 

After a long and pertinacious pursuit through- 
out eastern Bohilkhand, General Smith at last 
succeeded in bringing Amir Khan to action on 
March 2 at Afzalgarh. 

The British force — from which was deducted 
the 3rd Bengal Cavalry, left in charge of the 
baggage — numbered about 1400 regular cavalry, 

' William Leycester, the hero of this exploit, which resembled 
the defence of Arrah in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, entered the 
Indian Civil Service in 1791, and, after a distinguished career, 
died in India in 1831. 


with Skinner's 500 irregulars in addition. It 
came up with Anair Khan's force at two in the 
afternoon, and found it drawn up in order of 
battle, with the Eamgunga river in its front and 
the Kumaon hills in the rear. The small British 
force, having forded the river, was formed up in 
two lines — the first consisting of the 27th and 
29th Light Dragoons ; and the second, of the 
8th Light Dragoons and the 6th Bengal Cavalry. 
Skinner's horse were ordered to guard the left, 
and the 1st Bengal Cavalry the right flank, 
but there was not time to complete this dis- 
position. As the first line advanced fi'om the 
river the enemy advanced also, on which the 
Horse Artillery went to the front and opened 
a brisk fire. At this moment about 500 of the 
enemy's Bohilla horsemen suddenly charged, 
and the General, seeing his artillery imperilled, 
ordered the 27th Light Dragoons to advance 
through the guns and repel them. Barely had 
the 27th passed through the guns when the 
EiohiUas were upon them, and taking them thus 
at the walk, drove them back in confusion on 
the guns. Captain Brown was unable to fire 
into the mingled mass of friend and foe, and a 
disaster seemed imminent, when the prompt 
action of a squadron leader saved the day. 
Captain George Deare, whose squadron of the 


8 th Light Dragoons was on the right flank of 
the second line, advanced, and wheeling to the 
left, charged down the front and drove off the 
RohiUas in headlong flight. 

While the frontal attack was thus repulsed, 
those made on either flank of the British force 
also failed. Skinner's horse charging with great 
effect on the left, while on the right the fire of 
the galloper guns proved highly effective. The 
loss of the British was not more than forty 
killed and wounded, but Amir Khan's force was 
severely punished. A number of his best officers 
were killed, and a body of his Rohilla country- 
men, who had joined him and fought very 
courageously as infantry, fell almost to a man. 

On March 5 Major-General Smith's force arrived 
at Moradabad, and found that Amir Khan had 
passed by the town on the previous day. Leav- 
ing his wounded. Smith marched to BareiUy 
in order to protect southern Rohilkhand from 
the marauder. Two other British detachments 
were now in the field farther north, Colonel 
Burn having come down from Saharunpur, and 
a mounted force under Captain Murray acting 
in co-operation with him. The latter force 
inflicted a severe defeat on Amir Khan on 
March 8, at Chandpur, near Amroha, The 
result of these movements was that Amir 


Khan suddenly abandoned Rohilkhand, recross- 
ing the Ganges and making his way to Bhart- 
pur, whence he presently departed to Bundel- 
khand. Major-General Smith followed him to 
Bhartpur, rejoining the army there on March 
23 after an effective pursuit of over 700 miles 
in forty-four days — a noteworthy exploit for an 
infantry general.^ 

During his absence two more attempts had 
been made to storm the fortress. 

General Lake had decided that the strength 
of the Kumbhir and Anah gates, and the depth 
of the portion of the ditch lying between them, 
rendered further attacks in that quarter im- 
possible, and on information that there was 
much less water farther east, he decided to 
take up fresh ground in that direction. This 
was also desirable for sanitary reasons, so on 
February 6 the army changed position, encamp- 
ing with its left nearly opposite the Anah gate 
and its right facing the Nimdar gate. It was 
determined to breach between the two bastions 
nearest to the Anah gate. 

A grave oversight was the neglect to capture 
an advanced post on some rising ground opposite 
the Nimdar gate. A battery was constructed 

^ Major-General John Smith did not long surrive this exploit. 
He died at Mattra on August 6, 1806. 


to fire on the post, but it cannot be doubted it 
should have been taken before any attempt was 
made to attack Bhartpur itself from this quarter. 

On February 11 the army received a con- 
siderable accession of strength from the arrival 
in camp of the Bombay column, formerly com- 
manded by Colonel Murray. This ofl&cer had 
been removed from his command in consequence 
of his failure to assist Colonel Monson, and the 
column was now commanded by Major-General 
Richard Jones of the Bombay Artillery. Great 
interest was felt by the Bengal army in this 
meeting with Bombay troops, whose appearance 
was jealously scanned. The Bombay men had 
been five years on active service, and it was 
generally admitted by candid spectators that 
they had a business-like look. They carried 
much less baggage with them than did the 
troops of Bengal. There was a fine emulation 
between the troops of the two Presidencies, — 
the Bombay men requesting that as newcomers 
they might be given the next chance of action, 
whUe the Bengal troops, worn as they were, 
begged to be allowed to finish off their work. 

They had, indeed, shown the utmost zeal 
and cheerfulness in trying conditions, and the 
officers and men of the Bengal European Regi- 
ment, good fighters all, had been conspicuous 


for their exertions in the trenches. The Com- 
mander-in-Chief, who personally supervised the 
field-works, frequently thanked them for their 
hard work, and on one occasion (says the regi- 
mental history) some of the men of the regiment 
apologised to the Chief for their dirty appear- 
ance, urging as an excuse that they had not 
found time to change their shirts for several 
weeks. General Lake remarked approvingly 
that their dirty shirts were an honour to 
the wearers, showing that they had willingly 
sacrificed comfort to duty ; and his Excellency 
used frequently to address the regiment as 
his own " Dirty Shirts," — a name which was 
treasured with pride by the Bengal regiment ever 
afterwards. Some handsome pieces of plate on 
the mess -table of that famous old corps are 
inscribed as the gift of " An old Dirty Shirt." ^ 
Major General Jones' force consisted of — 

1 Troop Bombay Cavalry. 

500 Irregular Horse. 

65th Regiment (8 companies). 

86th Eegiment. 

2nd Battalion 1st Bombay Native Infantry. 

2nd II 2nd n n 

1st II 3rd II II 

1st II 9th 11 II 

Two 12-pounders, twelve 6-pounders, two field howitzers. 

1 From the 'History of the Bengal European Regiment,' by 
Lieut-Colonel Innes. 


In all, about 700 Europeans and 2400 native 
cavalry and infantry. 

The batteries had now been at work for 
several days, and on the day on which the 
Bombay troops arrived the new breach was 
reported practicable. The mistake of breaching 
before the arrangements for assault were com- 
plete was thus repeated. 

On this same night a trench leading up to 
the bastion nearest the Anah gate was com- 
menced, while on their part the enemy not only 
stockaded the breach but built a mud wall in 
support of the stockade. The enemy's artUlery 
fire was unsubdued, and our gunners now found 
Lake's punctUio in regard to uniform highly 
inconvenient, for whenever the General and his 
staff visited the trenches their scarlet coats and 
plumed hats brought down a shower of shot. 
This continued until a plain-spoken captain of 
artillery told Greorge Lake that his feathers 
endangered the life of every man in the battery, 
and begged him to lay them aside when he 
came down there, — a request that was after- 
wards complied with by all the staff. ^ 

The third assault was ordered to be made 
on February 20, and there was now a sufficient 

■ "Military Autobiography," 'East Indian United Service 


force for the purpose ; but a fatal want of care 
regarding details marred the design. A suf- 
ficient number of troops was not kept in the 
approaches, and this fact becoming known to 
the enemy, a daring and successful sortie was 
made from Bhartpur early on the morning of 
February 19. On this occasion the assailants, 
accompanied by coolies and women (a fact which 
shows how thoroughly they knew the state of 
affairs in the British approaches), made their way 
to a newly constructed battery and destroyed 
it, emptying and carrying away the sand-bags. 
Such an incident should surely have pre- 
vented an opportunity being given for another 
surprise, but on the following morning — the very 
day on which the assault was ordered — a general 
sortie was made from the town, and the whole 
of the trenches were attacked. The scene was 
a curious one. The enemy ran along the crest 
of the trenches, aiming blows with their spears 
and swords at the troops crowded below them 
in the trenches, and awaiting the order to 
assault. The bold assailants were eventually 
cleared ofi" by the flank companies of the 22nd, 
whose conduct was conspicuous on every occa- 
sion, and the British batteries opened fire on 
the defences that had been constructed in the 


The troops for the assault had been formed 
in three columns, as follows : — 

Right Column (Lieut.-Colonel Taylor) — 

65th Regiment, 300 men. 

1st Grenadier Battalion Bombay Ifative Infantry. 

1st Battalion 3id m m 

Centre Column (Captain Giant, 86th Regiment) — 

86th Regiment, 200 men. 

Ist Battalion 8th Bengal Native Infantry. 
Left Column (Lieut.-Colonel Patrick Don) — 

22nd Regiment. 

75th .1 

76th n 

Bengal European Regiment. 

1st Battalion 12th Bengal Native Infantry. 

2nd M 12th it n 

1st II 15th It II 

Of these, the right and centre columns were 
destined to make auxiliary attacks, while the 
strong left column was to assault the breach. 

The right column was ordered to make a 
detour far to the right and to force the Bhim 
Narayan gate, which was reported easy of 
access. The column was led by its guide under 
the fire of the town, lost its scaUng-ladders, 
and had a 12-pounder gun dismounted. It was 
then ordered to return to camp. The centre 
colimin carried out its orders successfully. Ad- 
vancing at 3 P.M., the hour named for the 
assault, it advanced and carried the high 
ground opposite the Nimdar gate, capturing 


eleven guns and pursuing the enemy up to the 
Atll gate, which was only closed as the head 
of the column reached it. For a moment it 
appeared as if Grant and his little column 
would actually effect an entrance, and Lake's 
ready expectation of success was aroused, but 
it was soon disappointed. 

This success should have rendered the task 
of the assaulting column comparatively easy, 
but, sad to relate, the attack ignominiously 
failed on account of the misconduct of those 
very troops who had so often covered them- 
selves with glory. The signal for the advance 
was the sound of the attack of the centre 
column, which was heard about 4 p.m. Fifty 
men of the main attack were then to approach 
the breach by way of the trench, which had 
been constructed to the very edge of the ditch : 
they were then to file outwards and open fire 
on the wall to the right and left of the breach, 
while the storming - party advanced to the 

The troops had now been waiting many hours 
in a hot sun. They had been considerably de- 
moralised by the attack that had been made 
on them in the early morning, and yet more 
so by the fact that the extremity of the ap- 
proach had remained all day in the hands of 


some of the enemy. Therefore, when the 
order to advance was given, the fascine bearers 
hesitated : a rumour spread that the approach 
had been mined, and the European troops in 
front finally refused to advance. 

Lieut. - Colonel Don, grasping the situation, 
called on the troops in rear to quit the ap- 
proach and follow him, whereupon the glorious 
remnant of the 22nd flank companies at once 
stepped out of the trench, as did the 12th 
Bengal Native Infantry. They were supported 
by two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant G. Swiney. 
Led by Don, these brave soldiers advanced on 
the bastion on the right of the breach, where 
the ditch was less deep. (A tall sepoy had 
already proved, by jumping into the water, 
that in front of the breach it was impassable.) 
A party of the 12th Native Infantry succeeded 
in clambering to the top of the bastion and 
there planted their regimental colour, and many 
individuals of this regiment and the surviving 
22nd flankers showed great gallantry. So diffi- 
cult of access was the bastion that the men 
had to climb up singly, some reaching the crest 
of the parapet, and some entering through the 
embrasures. In such circumstances success was 
impossible. A chance was now, however, given, 
for, seeing the colour of the 12th Native In- 


fantry on the bastion, the defenders of the 
breach thought that the storming -party must 
be near, and exploded the mines that had been 
prepared for its defence. Fourteen officers in 
the approach saw the opportunity, and running 
out, called on their men to follow them. Few, 
if any, answered to the appeal, and Colonel 
Don, seeing that the attempt was useless, re- 
called all who had gone on. 

The losses in this disastrous aflFair were very 
heavy, amounting to 894. The native troops, 
who deserved aU honour for their conduct, had 
113 killed and 556 wounded. The Europeans 
had 49 kiUed and 176 wounded. Lake, in his 
despatch to Lord Wellesley, praised Captain 
Grant and his small column for their gallant 
conduct. While regretting the failure of the 
two other columns, he made no disparaging 
remarks as to the conduct of the troops, and 
assured the Governor - General that " though 
unfortunately not crowned with success, the 
exertions of Colonel Don were meritorious and 
gallant in the extreme." 

General Lake, though much grieved by these 
heavy losses, and by the misconduct which had 
caused them and caused the failure of the assault, 
determined to make an immediate attempt to 
retrieve the prestige of his army. As it had 


been found practicable to clamber up the bas- 
tion on the right of the breach, it was thought 
that if heavily bombarded it might be rendered 
easy of access, and the battering guns were 
therefore turned on it. With the little ammu- 
nition that remained they made a large gap 
at the base of the bastion, but did not succeed 
in bringing it down. 

Early the following morning (February 21) 
the European troops were formed up and, 
writes Thorn, addressed by Lake "in terms of 
affectionate regret, rather than stern severity." 
He expressed his sorrow that by not obeying 
their officers yesterday they had lost the laurels 
which they had gained on so many occasions. 
Being yet willing to give them an opportunity 
of retrieving their reputation, he now called for 
such as chose to volunteer for another effort to 
step out. 

" Overpowered with shame and remorse," con- 
tinues Thorn, " they aU volunteered to a man ; 
and Lieutenant Templeton, with a noble fervour 
of patriotic zeal, offered to lead the forlorn- 
hope." Templeton, one of the surviving officers 
of the 76th, had been wounded in the second 
assault. The storming-party, for the fourth and 
last attempt on Bhartpur, moved to the attack 
about three in the afternoon, led by Colonel 


Monson. It consisted of all the British infantry 
of the Bengal Division, and the 1st Battalion 
2nd and 2nd Battalion 15th Bengal Native 
Infantry. The Bombay Division contributed 
the greater part of the 65th and 86th Regi- 
ments, the 1st Bombay Grenadier Battalion, 
and the flank companies of the 1st Battalion 
3rd Bombay Native Infantry. 

When the gallant remnant of the flank com- 
panies of the 22nd passed Lake, he was seen 
to turn away in tears. Quickly recovering him- 
self, he waved his hat and cheered the brave 
fellows. As the stormers, cheering Lake, ap- 
proached the breach, the ground was found 
strewn with the dead and wounded from the 
last assault, many stripped naked, some with- 
out heads, some without legs and arms, others 
shamefully mutilated and literally cut to pieces. 
Many of the poor fellows were still alive, and 
raised their heads, clotted with blood, others 
their legs and arms, making signs or faintly 
begging to be put out of their misery. Un- 
deterred by this horrible sight, the stormers, 
headed by Templeton and Shipp, moved steadily 
on to the bastion, which they endeavoured to 
climb. Some of the men, driving their bayonets 
into the rampart, endeavoured to gain a footing 
step by step ; some clambered up by the shot- 


holes. The enemy, in great strength, defended 
the bastion and breach in the most determined 
way, keeping up an incessant shower of grape on 
our troops. The people on the walls, too, con- 
tinually threw down upon them pieces of timber, 
flaming packs of cotton soaked in oU, solid shots, 
pots filled with gunpowder, and other explosives. 
The stormers showed the most determined cour- 
age, and maintained the struggle for two hours, 
when Monson, who had strained every nerve to 
attain success, reluctantly ordered a retirement. 
The losses in this assault numbered 987, the 
European troops having 69 killed and 410 
wounded. The native troops lost 56 killed and 
452 wounded. Among the officers kUled was 
the gallant Templeton, who fell just as he 
planted a Union-Jack flag on the bastion. Major 
Menzies, aide-de-camp to the Commander-in- 
Chief, was killed near the top of the breach. 
General Lake's attempts to storm Bhartpur thus 
finally failed, with a total loss of 103 officers and 
3100 men. In his despatch to Lord WeUesley 
he speaks in high terms of the "uncommon 
gallantry and perseverance" shown by Colonel 
Monson.^ Of the storming column he writes : 

' Colonel Monson shortly afterwards returned to England, and 
entered Parliament. He died in 1807. Hia son succeeded as the 
sixth Lord Monson. 


" Though the troops were unable to effect 
their object, I am happy to assure your lord- 
ship that they have on no occasion displayed 
greater steadiness. Those of the Bengal army 
supported their former character, and the Bom- 
bay division displayed a degree of resolution 
and discipline which entitles them to my high- 
est praise and approbation." 

In the fourth assault on Bhartpur the 76th 
Regiment had 11 killed and 122 wounded. 
With these losses the regiment was practically 
annihilated as a fighting force. It lost alto- 
gether 44 killed and 260 wounded at Bhart- 
pur; and during the entire campaign it had 15 
officers and 155 non-commissioned officers and 
men killed, and 21 officers and 654 of other 
ranks wounded, — a total of 36 officers and 809 
men, which does not include deaths from dis- 
ease. The wreck of the 76th went home 
shortly afterwards, with hardly an unwounded 
man in the ranks, and only two survivors of 
the original soldiers who had saUed for India 
under its colours. 

The flank companies of the 22nd Regiment, 
which, as we have seen, served only during the 
latter portion of Lake's campaigns, also suffered 
very heavily. All the officers of the two com- 
panies, 4 in number, were severely wounded ; 

2 B 


and, of the rank and file, 27 were killed and 
127 wounded, — 158 casualties in all. Such was 
active service in the days when the Indian 
Empire was a - making. Sergeant Shipp was 
immediately rewarded for his remarkable gal- 
lantry by a commission as ensign in the 65th 
Regiment, and very shortly afterwards he was 
promoted to a lieutenancy in the 76th. 

After the failure of the fourth assault it was 
evident that no more could be attempted at 
Bhartpur until fresh supplies of food and 
ammunition had been collected, for both were 
practically exhausted. Lake, however, had no 
intention of removing his pressure from the 
fortress. On the night of February 22 the 
ordnance was withdrawn from the batteries, 
and on the 24th the army changed ground to 
a spot 6|- miles north-east of the town, covering 
the roads to Agra, Muttra, and Dig. Detach- 
ments were sent away for supplies, and the 
troops remaining in camp were set to work 
on the construction of great numbers of fascines 
and gabions. Fresh guns, with ammunition, 
were brought up from Fatehgarh and Aligarh, 
and those rendered unserviceable by constant 
firing were repaired. 

The Kaja of Bhartpur saw with alarm the 
determined attitude of Lake. His allies were 

THE raja's congratulations. 387 

rapidly failing him, his townspeople were 
beginning to lose heart, and he thought it 
was time to see what terms he could obtain. 

The elevation of General Lake to the peerage 
aflForded an opportunity of correspondence which 
the Raja eagerly seized, and, much to the 
amusement of the British army, a letter arrived 
from him on March 10 congratulating the 
Commander-in-Chief on his new honours, and 
intimating the Baja's desire to visit him in 
the British camp. 

Whatever wish Lake may — nay, must — have 
felt to retrieve his failure, he was yet more 
anxious, for Lord Wellesley's sake, to bring the 
war to a close. This was clearly his first duty, 
so he at once entered into negotiations with 
the Raja. 

While the terms of peace were under consider- 
ation, Major-General Smith arrived (on March 23) 
from his pursuit of Amir Khan. Lord Lake gave 
the cavalry a few days' rest, and then, about 
one in the morning of March 29, marched at 
their head silently out of camp, with the intention 
of beating up Holkar's headquarters, which lay 
about eight miles west of Bhartpur. The sound 
of the British guns was unfortunately heard, 
and Holkar escaped, losing in the pursuit, which 
extended over several mUes, about 200 men. 


together with some elephants, camels, horses, 
and his camp. Holkar then removed to a con- 
siderable discance south-west of Bhartpur, where 
he thought himself secure ; but on April 2 Lord 
Lake made a similar night march with greater 
success, guided by Holkar's camp - fires alone. 
Heavy loss was inflicted on Holkar's troops, 
who dispersed in confusion. The British force 
sustained few casualties, but Holkar's losses 
were estimated at 1000 killed, and his scattered 
and demoralised troops were pursued for many 
miles over very broken ground. In this action 
the 27th and 29th Light Dragoons, like the 
Commander-in-Chief, appeared under new desig- 
nations, having been respectively renumbered the 
24th and 25th Light Dragoons. 

On April 8 the army again changed its camp, 
marching to nearly the same place on the south- 
east of Bhartpur that it had occupied during 
the siege. This movement accelerated the con- 
clusion of the treaty, the preliminaries of which 
were signed on April 10. Bhartpur remained 
in the possession of the Baja, but the fortress 
of Dig was to be kept in British hands until 
the Government should be satisfied as to the 
loyalty of the Eaja, who pledged himself to 
hold no communication with the enemies of 


Great Britain, nor to employ any European in 
his service without the sanction of Government. 
The Kaja also agreed to pay an indemnity of 
20 lakhs of rupees (£200,000). 

The British force before Bhartpur broke up 
on April 21, after lying there three months 
and twenty days. 

It left behind it the dead bodies of a great 
number of brave soldiers and a considerable 
amount of prestige ; for although the Jats and 
their Baja had been compelled to sue for peace, 
India long remembered that the great War 
Lord had sustained repeated defeats under the 
walls of Bhartpur, and had been unable in the 
end to effect its capture. 

Kaja Ranjit Singh died eight months after 
the repulse of Lake's last assault. In December 
1825 Bhartpur was again besieged by a British 
army, under Lord Combermere, in consequence 
of the usurpation of the throne by a cousin of 
the recognised heir. Lord Combermere, though 
provided with a powerful artillery, found it im- 
possible to breach the walls of Bhartpur, and 
the place was eventually captured by means of 
an immense mine. Lake, it is true, from the 
utter inadequacy of his means, did not succeed 
in his attempt ; yet few soldiers will fail to 


recognise that his dogged persistence and his 
vigorous offensive action against the enemies in 
his rear, while incessantly assailing Bhartpur 
with the scanty resources at his disposal, offer 
a shining instance of determination such as has 
rarely been excelled. 




A PASSING reference was made in the preceding 
chapter to the elevation of General Lake to the 
peerage. The honour, as is shown by the title 
chosen, Lord Lake of Delhi and Laswari and 
of Aston Clinton, was granted as a reward for 
the campaign of 1803 ; but by the irony of 
fate, and thanks to the habitual delay of the 
British Government in conferring rewards, Lord 
Wellesley's letter informing Lake of his eleva- 
tion did not reach him until March 8, 1805, 
when he was smarting from his final failure at 
Bhartpur, and we may be sure that so ill-timed 
a recompense lost much of its value to the 
recipient. Lord Lake was, however, as his 
reply to Lord Wellesley shows, grateful to 
the King who had sanctioned the reward, and 
to the Governor-Greneral who had recommended 
it. "Be assured," he writes to the latter, 
"that I feel much more than words can express 


for your kindness upon this and upon every 
other occasion, and would write more upon the 
subject was not my mind and time so much 
occupied with a variety of important objects, 
which I flatter myself will be found productive 
of the desired effect. I most sincerely lament 
our late disasters, which I own takes off much 
from the pleasure I should have received from 
the honours granted to me, but I trust before 
long to say I am in possession of this town." 

Lord Lake, as we have seen, was destined 
never to possess Bhartpur, but he was too 
good a soldier, and too true to his duty, to 
allow this bitter blow to his pride to divert 
him from the main object in view — the termina- 
tion of the war. The Baja of Bhartpur having 
ceased to be an active enemy, the obvious task 
before Lake was the extinction of Holkar, now 
the more pressing in that Sindhia was again 
showing signs of activity, and was evidently 
inclined to revive the Maratha Confederacy. 

The forts and armies of Bhartpur no longer 
affording Holkar a base for operations against 
the Company's territories, he retired westward 
after Lord Lake's raid on April 2 and crossed 
the Chambal. The immense host with which 
Holkar had begun the campaign of 1804 was 
now reduced to 13,000 men, with between 20 


and 30 worn - out guns ; and although Lord 
Lake presently followed him, marching from 
Bhartpur on April 21, he did so more because 
of the necessity of checking the designs of 
Sindhia than with any hope of crushing the 
fugitive and swift-footed hordes of Holkar. 

The threatened hostility of Sindhia hardly 
requires explanation. He was naturally ready 
to take the first opportunity of revenging him- 
self for the events of 1803, and the failure of 
the first assault on Bhartpur appeared to him 
to mark the turn of the tide of British conquest. 
Sindhia knew that Lake's victories had all been 
won, by a sort of miracle, with inadequate means. 
Such miracles, he thought, would no longer 
come to pass now that the spell of victory was 
broken ; so Sindhia took heart of grace, and after 
the repulse of the first assault wrote to the 
Baja of Bhartpur urging him to hold out 
stoutly, promising to come to his assistance, 
and sounded Holkar as to the renewal of the 
confederation. Sindhia's letter feU into the 
hands of Lord Lake, who directed Mr Richard 
Jenkins, the acting Resident at Sindhia's Court, 
to retire thence and enter British territory. 
Sindhia, defiant though still undecided, refused 
to allow the departure of Mr Jenkins, and con- 
nived at the pillage of his camp-equipage and 


baggage. On hearing of this incident Lake at 
once threatened Sindhia with hostilities, and 
the latter, although he eventually permitted Mr 
Jenkins to depart, retired to Kotah, attended 
by a number of Maratha and Kajput chiefs 
whom he had drawn from their allegiance to 
the British Government. 

Lord Lake followed Sindhia as far as Dholpur, 
and having called the troops in Bundelkhand to 
join him, found himself by the end of April at 
the head of 18,000 men. Alarmed at this show 
of strength, many of Sindhia's adherents deserted 
him and proceeded, with their contingents, to 
Lake's headquarters, swelling his army to the 
imposing strength of 30,000 men. With camp- 
followers there were, writes Thorn, an aggregate 
of 300,000 people assembled on the barren rocks 
and sandbanks of the Chambal. 

The defection of the chiefs from Sindhia and 
the disputes between him and Holkar having 
put an end to all immediate danger, Lord Lake 
determined to disperse this great assemblage, 
who could not long be maintained in so arid a 
region. On May 10, accordingly, the Bombay 
division marched for Kampura, and ten days 
later the Bundelkhand troops set out for their 
own province. There was, however, to be no 
repetition of the mistake of the previous year. 


The Bengal army was all to remain, during the 
hot weather, west of the Jumna, and ready for 
prompt concentration should the necessity arise. 
Setting out from Dholpur on May 26, the troops 
were all cantoned early in June, — the British 
infantry, under Colonel Monson, at Fatehpur 
Sikri ; the artillery and the native cavalry and 
infantry divided between Agra and Muttra ; 
while the three Light Dragoon regiments, with 
their galloper guns, housed themselves in the 
magnificent tomb of the Emperor Akbar at 
Sikandra and in the surrounding buildings. 

The firm attitude of Lord Lake, supported as 
he was by the Governor - General, had had its 
inevitable effect on Sindhia, and there was every 
prospect of affairs between him and the British 
Government arriving at a satisfactory settlement. 
With this end in view Lord Wellesley was indeed 
prepared to make considerable concessions, but 
an event presently occurred which came near 
frustrating Lake's negotiations. This was the 
recall of Lord Wellesley from India and the 
appointment of Lord Cornwallis as his successor, 
pledged to a policy of peace and retrenchment. 
As far back as January 1802 Wellesley had 
informed the Court of Directors of his intention 
to resign the government of India, and he re- 
peated this request in^ March of the same year. 


The Directors, hesitating between a desire to 
recall a Governor-General who habitually dis- 
regarded their ideas and followed his own, and 
a feeling that it would be impossible to replace 
him, begged Wellesley to remain in office until 
January 1804. In accordance with his demand, 
this application of the Directors was warmly 
supported by the Ministry, and Wellesley con- 
sented to remain in office. Again in 1803 he 
desired to resign, and again he was requested to 
remain. This singular state of affairs continued, 
and when the home Government rewarded Lake 
and Arthur Wellesley for their services in the 
campaign of that year. Lord Wellesley not only 
received no reward but was practically censured 
by the Directors, who, while congratulating him 
on the brilliant successes of the campaign, de- 
clared that " they did not enter at present into 
the origin or policy of the war." 

Thus although his sense of duty kept Wellesley 
from again resigning his post while the difficulties 
brought about by his policy still existed, he ex- 
pressed in the strongest language his hatred — for 
it was nothing less — of his masters in London. 
" Your lordship," he wrote to Castlereagh, " may 
be assured that as no symptom of tardy remorse 
displayed by the honourable Court in consequence 
of my recent successes wiU vary my present esti- 


mation of the faith and honour of my very 
worthy and approved good masters, or protract 
my continuance in India for one hour beyond 
the limits prescribed by the public interests, 
so no additional outrage, injury, or insult which 
can issue from the most loathsome den of the 
India House will accelerate my departure when 
the public safety shall appear to require my aid 
in this most arduous situation." 

So Wellesley remained in office until the dis- 
aster to Monson's force gave the denizens of the 
said loathsome den an opportunity which they 
eagerly seized. Wellesley was recalled, and 
Lord Cornwallis having arrived at Calcutta on 
July 30, 1805, the great proconsul sailed on 
August 15 for England. His farewell letter 
to Lake shows his undiminished friendship, and 
his wish that Lake should not leave India until 
his work had been accomplished : — 

Fort William, Jvly 30, 1805. 

My dear Lord, — The preparations for my approaching 
departure have occupied me so severely that I have heen 
unable to reply to your last very kind and affectionate 
letters. This morning I have, to my very great satis- 
faction, been relieved from the charge of this Government 
by Lord Cornwallis ; and I shall now be at liberty to 
answer your lordship's obliging private communications 
in the fullest manner, previously to my actual embarka- 
tion. But I could not allow this express to depart 


without renewing to your lordship, in the most Qordial 
spirit of gratitude, affection, and respect, the assurances 
of my unalterable friendship and attachment. I propose 
to embark between the 15 th and 20 th of August. Lord 
Comwallis having written to your lordship, you will be 
apprised of the intentions of this Government respecting 
the state of affairs in Hindustan. You will also have 
learnt the arrangements which have been made in 
England with regard to your own situation. On this 
subject I shall offer no further remark than that my 
wish must be to preserve your lordship's invaluable 
services until affairs shall have been finally settled in 
India. As far as your kindness to me is concerned, 
your lordship will best satisfy my mind by continuing 
to serve your country in this quarter of the globe to the 
completion of every object of peace and prosperity. 
Lord Cornwallis will probably embark on the river 
before I can attempt to sail in the present state of the 
season. It is doubtful whether any letter from your 
lordship, however, would now find me in India; but 
I sincerely hope to hear from you fully and frequently 
in England. 

Ever, my dear lord, yours most sincerely and 
affectionately, Wellesley. 

In accordance with his promise to the Directors, 
Lord Cornwallis immediately set about the task 
of reducing expenditure, and on his first working 
day in India wrote thus to Lake : " It is my 
earnest desire, if it should be possible, to put 
an end to this most unprofitable and ruinous 
warfare." The voice of history has declared 
that Lord Wellesley's wars were neither un- 


profitable nor ruinous. On the contrary, they 
averted ruin and established an Empire ; but 
the dying eyes of Comwallis could not see the 
truth. Soon, indeed, they saw no more in this 
world, for having set out from Calcutta for 
Allahabad, in order to provide personally that 
his measures should be carried into execution. 
Lord Comwallis died at Ghazipur on October 5, 

Much as we must deplore the orders which 
the dying Governor-General sent to Lake, which, 
but for the firmness of the latter, would in all 
probability have caused the dying war again 
to spring to life, no reproachful words shall 
here be written of one who had been in his 
day a clear-sighted statesman and an able 
soldier, and was always an upright English 

The instructions sent by Comwallis to Lake, 
dated September 19, were to the following 
effect. All points under dispute with Sindhia 
were to be surrendered; Gohad and Gwaliorwere 
to be returned ; Delhi was to be abandoned ; 
and Sindhia was to be permitted to restore 
Maratha influence in Hindustan; the Company's 
border was to be drawn back from the Chambal 
to the Jumna ; and British protection was to 


be withdrawn from the native princes whose 
territories lay between these rivers. Dholpur 
was to be given back to Sindhia, and the 
E/aja of Jaipur was to be left to make terms 
for himself as best he could. 

In sending this letter to Lord Lake, the 
Governor -General enclosed one for Sindhia to 
the same effect. 

The terms proposed being a complete sur- 
render of the conquests made during the war, 
which was still unfinished, the letter was 
nothing less than a confession of defeat, and 
woiJd undoubtedly have been so regarded 
by Sindhia and every ruling prince in India. 
The proposal to abandon to their enemies the 
chiefs with whom alliances had been concluded, 
ranks with the most humiliating and dishonour- 
ing policies ever imposed on an English general 
by his employers. 

To his eternal honour, Lord Lake took all 
risks and detained the letter to Sindhia, pend- 
ing a reply to the remonstrance which he ad- 
dressed to Lord Cornwallis. Before it could 
reach him the Governor - General was dead. 
He was succeeded by Sir George Barlow, the 
senior member of Council, who had held a 
dormant commission during the Governor- 
Generalship of Lord Wellesley. Barlow's opinions 


at this time reflected those of Lord Cornwallis, 
just as they had reflected those of Wellesley 
while the latter was in office. As a civil ser- 
vant of the Company, Barlow was indeed in 
duty bound, when a free agent, to carry out 
what he knew to be the wishes of the Court 
of Directors, and the death of Lord Cornwallis, 
therefore, did little to diminish the difficulties 
of Lake in his negotiations with Sindhia. 

That Lake was able to carry them event- 
ually to a successful issue is partly due to the 
happy circumstance that Colonel (afterwards 
Sir John) Malcolm was now his political as- 
sistant. Malcolm was entirely in sympathy 
with "the forward policy" of Wellesley and 
Lake, but was able from his position and 
training to calm the anxiety of Sir George 
Barlow, and so gain the time necessary to 
complete the bargain with Sindhia. A treaty 
fixing the British border at the Chambal was 
finally accepted by Sindhia in November, but 
a month earlier Lake's mind was so far at rest 
that he had been able to set out from Muttra 
to deal once and for all with Holkar. 

Reference has been made to the rupture 
between Holkar and Sindhia, after which in- 
cident the former, attended by Amir Khan, 
had proceeded to Ajmir. After vainly en- 

2 c 


deavouring to persuade the Baja of Jaipur 
to join him, Holkar marched northward in Sep- 
tember, hoping to obtain the support of the 
chiefs of the southern Sikh states, of whom 
the most powerful were the Eiajas of Patiala, 
Nabha, and Jhind. Holkar marched through 
Shekawatti, skirting Alwar and Rewari, to 
Dadri in Jhajhar, where he left his infantry, 
numbering about 3000, with 1000 cavalry and 
30 guns, to harry the British territories. He 
himself, with about 11,000 horse, went on to 
Patiala. Lord Lake immediately pursued him, 
marching from Muttra towards Delhi on October 
10, and disposing the bulk of his troops for 
the protection of the northern portion of the 
Doab, both against Holkar's infantry and any 
attack that the Sikh chiefs might be induced 
to make. These dispositions proved effectual, 
and we need only follow the march of the 
small body of troops with which Lord Lake 
personally pursued Holkar. This consisted of 
two brigades of cavalry, composed of the three 
Light Dragoon regiments and the 3rd and 
5th Bengal Cavalry, Captain Brown's battery 
of Horse Artillery, some field-guns, and the 
reserve infantry brigade, now composed of the 
entire 22nd Regiment, the Bengal European 
Regiment, the 1st Battalion 9th and the 1st 

lake's last pursuit. 403 

Battalion 11th Native Infantry. Colonel Need ^ 
commanded the 1st Brigade of Cavalry, and 
with the tough old Commander-in-Chief was 
one of the few senior officers remaining with 
the army who had taken the field at the 
beginning of the war. 

On October 28 Lake's force met on the 
march the garrison of Dig, that fortress having 
been returned to the Raja of Bhartpur in 
consideration of a large money payment, which 
supplied Lake's army with the sinews of war. 
Lake arrived at Delhi on November 7, and 
was at Panipat, the famous battlefield on which 
the mastery of India had so often been de- 
cided, on November 17. Here Lake picked up 
the column, under Colonel Burn, which had 
been cantoned at Panipat during the hot 
weather. Burn's force included Skinner's horse, 
and with his force thus considerably increased, 
Lord Lake confidently followed Holkar. There 
was still a chance that Banjit Singh, now the 
most powerful of the Sikh chiefs north of the 
Sutlej, might assist the fugitive, but Lake was 
for the moment free of control from Calcutta; 
he had money enough for present needs in his 

' Colonel Samuel Need entered the army 1784, and became a 
major-general in 1814 He was promoted lieutenant-general in 
1830, appointed colonel of the 9th Light Dragoons in 1837, and 
died in 1839. 


treasury, a sufficient force at his disposal, and 
he was determined to bring the war to a 
decisive issue. On November 24 the British 
force arrived at Patiala, where the Raja in- 
formed Lake that he had refused to assist 
Holkar with men or money. The southern Sikh 
states had indeed decided to accept British 
protection, in preference to absorption by the 
growing power of Ranjit Singh. 

The pursuit of Holkar still continued, and on 
December 2 the army arrived at Ludhiana, a 
town standing on a tributary of the river 
Sutlej, the southern boundary of the Punjab. 
Holkar had already crossed the river and was 
at Jalandhar, some thirty miles farther north. 
Lord Lake was now anxious to make a forward 
dash, and, if possible, bring Holkar to a de- 
cisive action ; but the native regiments showed 
considerable reluctance to cross the Sutlej, 
probably on account of some religious prejudice. 
Here the unquestioning loyalty of Skinner's 
horse proved of great service. Knowing that 
Skinner would undertake any task, and that 
his men would follow him blindfold, Lord Lake, 
when at dinner on December 3, observed that 
he wished some one would try the ford over 
the Sutlej with a troop and a galloper gun. To 
leave no room for a mistake, Colonel Worsley, 


the Adjutant- General, told Skinner that the 
hint was intended for him. " On which," writes 
Skinner in his memoirs, "I immediately rose 
and said, ' If your lordship will give me leave, 
I will try the ford to-morrow morning.' He 
replied, ' Be there about dawn with two rissalahs 
of your yellow boys and a galloper, and I will 
also be with you.' " Skinner continues that on 
the following morning he crossed the Sutlej, 
though with some difficulty, his horses having 
to swim for about twenty yards, and the gun 
sticking in a quicksand. However, in less than 
an hour they were all well over, and Skinner 
took off his hat and gave three cheers, in which 
Lord Lake, Malcolm, and the staff aU heartily 
joined, proclaiming that the first British gun 
had entered the Punjab. Meanwhile Malcolm, 
with his usual tact and knowledge of the 
native character, had pointed out to the sepoys 
that there could be no objection to crossing 
over towards Amritsar, a sacred Hindu city. 
They were at once persuaded, and made no 
difficulty when a battalion was ordered to 
cross and secure the ford on December 5. On 
the following day the whole army crossed the 
Sutlej, and on the 7th marched on towards the 
Bias, the northern tributary of that river. 
On December 8 Skinner was sent on with 400 


of his men to find Holkar. After a march of 
thirty miles Skinner came to the south bank 
of the Bias, to find that Holkar had crossed 
the river. His rear- guard were still on the 
north bank, and fired a few rounds from an 
18 -pounder at Skinner's men. These were the 
last shots of the war. 

Holkar was now at Amritsar, but could fly 
no farther, as Banjit Singh refused to befidend 
him. During Lake's march through the southern 
Punjab the utmost care had been taken to 
give no offence to the population, the troops 
maintaining strict discipline and paying liberally 
for aU supplies. StUl, Banjit Singh was desirous 
that Lake's army should penetrate no farther 
into the Sikh country, and it was clearly a 
time for patience and diplomacy. 

Lake and his army therefore encamped on 
the south bank of the Bias opposite Amritsar, 
and Charles Metcalfe was deputed to enter into 
negotiations with Holkar. This proved a most 
difficult task for the young diplomatist, for 
Holkar, in spite of the difficulties of his own 
position, was ready to presume on the pacific 
spirit that he knew actuated the British Govern- 
ment. Metcalfe, however, young as he was, 
had the necessary strength of character to play 
a firm part. He and Colonel Malcolm were 


politicians of the Wellesley school, and being 
aware that the new Cornwallis- Barlow policy 
of flabby surrender would merely defeat its 
own ends and fail to secure peace, they heartily 
encouraged Lord Lake in the line of action 
congenial to him. Lake showed himself, as 
ever, strong and bold. A long career, ending 
in four strenuous years of Indian warfare, had 
sapped his constitution, but he still appeared 
to possess his full vigour of body, and no weak- 
ness of win had overtaken him. Ignoring all 
timid instructions from Calcutta, he refused 
to make further concessions, and finally de- 
clared that if the treaty as propounded by 
Metcalfe were not signed within three days, 
he would cross the Bias and march upon 
Holkar's camp. 

Metcalfe has left in a private letter an inter- 
esting account of his negotiations with Ek- 
chasm-ud-daula ("His one-eyed Highness," as 
it may be translated). He describes Holkar's 
appearance as " very grave, his countenance 
expressive, his manners and conversation easy. 
He has not at all the appearance of the savage 
we know him to be. ... A little lap-dog was 
on his musnud, a strange playfellow for Holkar. 
The jewels on his neck were invaluably rich." 
Holkar was still attended by Amir Khan, whom 


Metcalfe describes as " blackguard in his looks. 
. . . He affected on the occasion of my re- 
ception to be particularly fierce, by rubbing his 
coat over with gunpowder and assuming in 
every way the air of a common soldier." 

Lord Lake's firmness, and the conviction that 
he would make good his threat to attack, 
brought Holkar to his knees. His troops had 
no more fight in them, and the Sikhs, not 
yet welded into a nation by Ranjit Singh, 
could not help even had they desired to do 
so ; so on January 7, 1803, a treaty of peace 
was signed between Holkar and the British 
Government, and the long-drawn-out war was 
at last at an end. The terms, as usual, were 
generous. Large possessions were restored to 
the man who, a little time before, had declared 
that he could carry all his all on' his saddle. 
Holkar was required to renounce all claims on 
the territory north of the Chambal and in 
Bundelkhand, and, like Sindhia, to engage to 
employ no Europeans without the consent of 
the British Government ; he was to relinquish 
his claims on B^mpura and against the B/aja 
of Bundi, and to return to his own territories 
by a route prescribed, with the intention of 
keeping his Ul-disciplined army from molesting 
the chiefs who had befriended the English 


during the war. On the other hand, Holkar 
received back all the territory south of the 
Tapti and Godaveri rivers that had been cap- 
tured from him during the war, and he was con- 
firmed in the possession of his provinces south 
of the Chambal. He was, in fact, restored 
to his original position, losing his temporary- 
acquisitions, but deprived of nothing. 

Such a conclusion to the war was both satis- 
factory and honourable, and Lord Lake had fair 
reason to suppose that Sir George Barlow would 
accept the settlement. When announcing to 
him the signature of the treaty. Lake writes : 
" I offer my most cordial congratulations on an 
event which promises to restore complete tran- 
quillity to India, and which you, I am satisfied, 
will judge to be highly favourable to the in- 
terests of the British Government." 

Sir George Barlow, however, was not content. 
He was bent on a retrograde policy, and on 
repudiating all protective obligations. There- 
fore, in ratifying Lake's treaties with Sindhia 
and Holkar, Barlow added to them certain 
"declaratory" articles, which practically aban- 
doned the small states west of the Jumna to 
the vengeance of the Marathas. 

Sir George Barlow is perhaps not to be judged 
by the same standard as an ordinary Governor- 


General. He was not, like Wellesley, a great 
nobleman, an Imperial statesman, governing 
India for its own good, but also for the ad- 
vantage of the Empire. Barlow was merely a 
servant of the East India Company, pledged, 
as he believed, to carry out the timid and 
huckstering policy of LeadenhaU Street, and 
the onus of his base surrender of the allies of 
England rests perhaps chiefly on the Directors 
rather than on him. 

Whosesoever the blame. Lord Lake would no 
more consent to exercise political duties, nor 
to connive at the abandonment of faithful 
friends. He had already suffered sufficient 
humiliation from the repudiation by Lord Corn- 
wallis of his engagements to the corps of irreg- 
ulars. Sir George Barlow's abandonment of the 
Rajput chief was the last straw. Lake there- 
fore resigned his political functions, and prepared 
to retain his office of Commander-in-Chief only 
until he should have been able to carry out 
the task of demobilising the army and placing 
it in its peace stations. His conduct at this 
juncture is thus described by Metcalfe, — a civil 
servant, be it remembered, — in a letter dated 
February 12, 1806: "Lord Lake has acted in 
a dignified and noble manner. He declares his 
sentiments in opposition to those of the Governor- 



General, and he urges every argument and fact 
which he hopes will induce him to alter his 
plans. Having done this, he is determined not 
to embarrass or counteract the views of the 
Government; and feeling that he cannot be a 
fit instrument for the execution of measures 
which he entirely disapproves, . . . his lord- 
ship is resolved to resign all political powers 
and to confine his attention to military arrange- 
ments. His despatches are marked equally by 
proper respect and manly firmness." 

Lord Lake's army commenced its return march 
to Hindustan on January 9, two days after the 
acceptance of the treaty by Holkar, and re- 
crossed the Sutlej on January 18. The march 
was subsequently continued in a leisurely manner, 
delay being caused by late winter rains. At 
Karnal, reached on February 10, a detachment 
of two battalions of sepoys, with Skinner's 
horse, was left in garrison under Brigadier- 
General Burn, the remainder of the army, with 
the Commander-in-Chief, arriving at Delhi on 
February 15. Brigadier -General Burn will be 
mentioned no more in these pages, but as one 
of the best of Lord Lake's officers he deserves 
a farewell notice. Burn left India in 1807 after 
thirty-six years of valuable service. He reached 
the rank of Major-General, and died in England 


on April 11, 1814. Had he lived a year longer, 
it cannot be doubted that he would have been 
included in the first list of Indian officers who 
received the Bath on the enlargement of that 
Order. His name should stand high among the 
most distinguished soldiers produced by the 
Indian army. 

Lord Lake remained two months at Delhi, 
and was obliged to keep the army in readiness 
for action by the unsatisfactory conduct of 
Holkar, who showed great disinclination to 
return to his own dominions and a fixed in- 
tention of maltreating the Bajput states. Sir 
George Barlow was, however, no less fixed in 
his policy of non-intervention, and Lord Lake 
had to endure the humiliation of being re- 
proached by the Baja of Jaipur for his im- 
pending ruin. 

While at Delhi several fetes were given to 
the army, the most magnificent being that 
given by the Begum Sumru, a lady who, though, 
as Thorn mentions, " somewhat advanced in 
years," took great delight in camp life, and was 
a warm admirer of Lord Lake and his army. 

Having completed all the necessary arrange- 
ments for the distribution of the troops. Lord 
Lake went on his way to Cawnpore, and thence 
to Calcutta. In February 1807 he embarked 


for England, "followed," writes Thorn, "by the 
prayers of the people of India, as well natives 
as Europeans, who esteemed him for his personal 
virtues no less than they admired him for his 
unshaken firmness in war, the vigour of his 
operations, the judgment displayed in his plans, 
and the liberality of his conduct in the hour 
of victory." 

Lord Lake was one of the most popular Com- 
manders - in - Chief who ever served in India ; 
yet he was a strict disciplinarian, and he never 
spared his troops when there was an attack to 
be made or hard marching to be undertaken. 
He lived before the growth of the strange theory 
that victories could be won and armies defeated 
without loss of life, so the soldiers who served 
him knew that he would call upon them to 
face hardship, wounds, and death. Yet they 
served Lake wilhngly, for they always saw him 
share with them the toil and the danger, and 
they knew by a hundred proofs that he was 
generous and kind-hearted. 

No one was more closely associated with 
Lake in the last portion of his arduous Indian 
career than Colonel, afterwards Sir John, 
Malcolm, and no one was better fitted than 
he to judge of the quality and character of 
a man. His picture of Lake is therefore 


of special value. " I am truly proud," he 
writes in a private letter, " to think that I 
have succeeded, to the very extent of my 
hope, in obtaining Lord Lake's uniform ap- 
probation ; and you wiU be surprised to learn 
that I have had the good fortune to go on, 
through the arduous and vexatious scene in 
which I have been engaged, without once dis- 
pleasing his lordship in the most trifling 
instance. And, indeed, I have every hour 
received, from the first day I joined to the 
present moment, fresh marks of his regard, 
esteem, and confidence, which I attribute in 
the fitrst instance to the respect and affection 
which Lord Lake entertains for Lord Wellesley, 
and the inclination he in consequence feels to 
be kind to any person honoured by his pro- 
tection ; and, in the second, to the direct course 
I have observed, and the freedom with which 
I have expressed my sentiments on every 
occasion. For, believe me, whatever defects 
there may be in the character of Lord Lake 
(and he, like other men, has his share), that 
of want of accurate observation of those about 
him is not of the number. Indeed, he ap- 
preciates, as justly as any man I ever knew 
in my life, the characters and views of those 
with whom he has personal communication. 

SIR JOHN Malcolm's estimate. 415 

As for myself, I have a sincere attachment to 
the old lord, which has been created by a 
full knowledge of his many admirable quali- 
ties. His heart is kind almost to weakness. 
He is honourable in the fullest sense of 
the word. As to his military talents, let 
his life speak. Without that regular system, 
and without that comprehensive mind which 
theorists may conclude indispensable to form 
a great leader, he will (as far as I can judge), 
from his attention to the temper and character 
of those he commands, — from his looking, in 
military points, to essentials and not trifles, — 
and from his extraordinary energy, courage, 
and animation, always do more with troops 
than those who may be reputed abler ; and I 
am satisfied that he will always merit and 
enjoy the highest confidence of those under 
his orders. I thought you would be anxious 
to know what I thought of Lord Lake, and 
I have told you sincerely. Many may differ ; 
but I have formed my opinion after a good 
deal of reflection, and after having had the 
best opportunity of judging of most parts of 
his character." 

This very interesting study gives the clue 
to much of Lord Lake's extraordinary power 
of commanding the confidence of his officers 


and men, that quality the absence of which 
nullifies all the other talents of a general. 
It was because his army saw that Lake looked 
to essentials and not to trifles that they 
believed in him, and it was his energy, 
courage, animation, and sympathy that gave 
him the magnetic influence over his soldiers 
of all races that carried him so often to 
victory in the face of difficulties and odds 
that seemed overpowering. 

If these great qualities earned for Lake the 
veneration of his army, as indeed they did, 
his very foibles and habits were such as 
pleased the soldiers of his day. " He had," 
writes Sir John Kaye, "no small contempt 
for civilians and penmen. 'Damn your writ- 
ing — mind your fighting,' was the exhortation 
which he blurted out in the rude language 
of the camp. He was a disciplinarian and 
something of a formalist. It mattered not at 
what time of the morning the army commenced 
its march, there was Lord Lake in full uni- 
form, buttoned to the chin, powdered, and 
peruked. But there was a warm heart beneath 
the rigid exterior, and no man was more be- 
loved by aU ranks of the army." There is an 
honourable confirmation of this last statement 
in Lieut. -Colonel Innes's ' History of the Bengal 


European Eegiment,' Lord Lake's own " Dirty- 
Shirts " : " He was beloved by the Bengal 
European Regiment. The anniversary of his 
death was for many years observed with 
solemnity, and his memory was at all times 
held dear by those officers who had had the 
glorious privilege of serving under him in the 

Such was the feeling towards Lord Lake of 
those who served England under his command. 
A record of the estimation in which he was held 
by the great Governor - General, to whom he 
devoted every faculty of mind and body from 
the day of his arrival in India, has also hap- 
pily been preserved, and with it we may fitly 
conclude this estimate of Lake's quality as a 
soldier. "I am anxious," wrote Lord Wellesley 
to the Prince of Wales, " to offer my con- 
gratulations to your Royal Highness upon the 
brilliant and highly useful services of General 
Lake. His masterly operations, his unex- 
ampled alacrity and honourable zeal, the judg- 
ment, skill, and promptitude of decision which 
he has manifested in every crisis of difficulty 
or danger, combined with his irresistible spirit 
of enterprise and courage, entitle him to the 
gratitude and admiration of every loyal British 
subject, and of every heart and mind which 

2 D 


can feel for the honour, or can understand the 
interests, of the British Empire." 

It is strange but true that the object of 
this eulogium from the illustrious Wellesley 
has been forgotten by his countrymen, or re- 
membered, if at all, rather by his failure to 
capture Bhartpur than by his long life of 
faithful and loyal service, and by the glorious 
victories of his Indian campaigns. 

The remainder of Lord Lake's story may be 
dismissed in a few words. Having completed 
his period of service as Commander-in-Chief in 
India, he embarked for home in February 1807. 
In October of the same year he was raised 
to the rank of Viscount, but survived this 
new honour but a few months. 

In February 1808, while serving as president 
of the court - martial on the unfortunate 
General Whitelocke, Lord Lake suddenly fell 
ill, in consequence of a violent chill aggravated, 
according to a family tradition, by the refiisal 
of the punctilious old soldier to wear a great- 
coat. His constitution, sapped by long and 
arduous service, gave way, and after three days 
of suffering, he died on February 20, 1808, at 
the age of sixty-three years. Lake's last day 
on earth was cheered by the kindness of his 
old master and friend, the Prince Regent, who 

A life's record. 419 

paid him a long visit, and was seen to be in 
tears as he left the dying man. 

Just a hundred years have elapsed since 
death put a period to Lake's long and faith- 
ful services to England. In that he did not 
escape calumny he but shared the fate of every 
soldier, seaman, and statesman who has held 
high oflfice in our party-swayed country. The 
slanders which assailed Lake, in common with 
all who had borne a part in the conquests of 
Wellesley, were easily and promptly disproved. 
It was readily shown that with great oppor- 
tunities of blamelessly acquiring wealth, Lake 
had died a poor man, leaving but a pittance 
to his family. Time, however, while clearing 
his honour, has robbed Lake of an inheritance 
to which he was entitled, the fame of a com- 
mander who never encountered defeat in the 
field. MaUeson, in a striking passage, com- 
pared Lake with Clive for his calmness of 
mind and clearness of vision in the stress and 
turmoil of battle ; and for this rare and price- 
less quality, and for his commanding influence 
in moments when victory and defeat were 
hanging in the balance, Lake will bear com- 
parison with an even greater commander. To 
him may be applied the majestic eulogy of 
Addison : — 


" 'Twaa then great Malborough's mighty soul was proved, 
That in the shock of charging hosts unmov'd, 
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair, 
Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war ; 
In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd, 
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid ; 
Inspir'd repuls'd battalions to engage, 
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage." 

In the battles of the future the personal 
influence of the commander, though differently 
manifested, will still be decisive. No longer 
will it be possible for him, like Lake at Las- 
wari or Wellesley at Assaye, to lead in the 
charge both his cavalry and his infantry, and 
to watch with his own eyes every shifting 
phase of the battle. Yet the same qualities 
that gave Lake his long train of victories at 
Aligarh, Delhi, Agra, and Laswari, that encour- 
aged him to deal blow after blow at Bhartpur, 
regardless of the hosts that encompassed his 
small army, the qualities of daring enterprise 
and iron determination, will alone secure suc- 
cess in future wars as they have in the past. 

Commanders of the type of Lake may make 
mistakes, but they win victories, and their 
value to the countries that give them birth 
is inestimable. 




Lord Lake's family consisted of three sons and five 
daughters — 

I. Francis Gerard, the eldest son, bom in 1772, 
entered his father's regiment, the 1st Guards, in which 
he became Lieutenant and Captain in 1793, and Captain 
and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1798. Francis Lake served 
as Aide-de-Camp to General Lake in Holland in 1794, 
and commanded a battalion of the 1st Guards in Sicily 
in 1806 and 1807. He succeeded as second Viscount 
on the death of his father in February 1808, and in the 
same year was promoted a Colonel in the army. He 
became a Major-General in 1811, and a Lieutenant- 
General in 1821. Viscount Lake married, first, in 
1800, Priscilla, daughter of Sir Charles Whitworth; 
and secondly, in 1833, Anne, daughter of Admiral Sir 
Richard Onslow, Bart., but had no issue. He died 
May 12, 1836, when the peerage devolved on his 
youngest brother, of whom presently. 

II. George Augustus Frederick, second son of Lord 
Lake, also entered the army at an early age, and received 
rapid promotion. He became a Cornet in the 8 th Light 


Dragoons in 1796, and served as Aide-de-Camp to his 
father throughout the Irish rebellion and the French 
expedition to Ireland. On the appointment of his 
father as Commander-in-Chief in India, George Lake, 
then a Captain in the 34th Kegiment, received the 
appointment of Aide-de-Camp, and subsequently that of 
Military Secretary, being presently promoted Major in 
the 40th Kegiment. On November 12, 1803, he was 
promoted Lieutenant- Colonel in the 29th Eegiment, 
though with only seven years' total service. George 
Lake, who showed conspicuous promise as a soldier, 
was dangerously wounded in the knee at Laswari. 
His services throughout the Maratha War were very 
valuable, and, notwithstanding his youth, he showed 
himself worthy of the important and responsible duties 
entrusted to him. Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. George Lake 
was one of the first officers killed in the Peninsular 
War, falling at the head of the 29 th Eegiment, in which 
he was greatly beloved, on August 17, 1808, at the 
action of EoliQa — only six months after the death of his 
father. In this action the 29th, an exceptionally fine 
regiment, was near the centre of that part of the British 
Une which made a frontal attack on the heights forming 
the French position, and, hurried forward by the impetu- 
ous gallantry of their Colonel, made their attack some 
time before any other corps was engaged. The grenadier 
company of the 29 th, headed by Colonel Lake, was over- 
whelmed by the enemy, and Lake was killed ; but the 
remaining companies gallantly fought their way to the 
crest of the position, supported by the 9 th Eegiment, 
and succeeded eventually in holding their ground until 
the remainder of the line came up, when the French, 
who were now outnumbered, executed an orderly retire- 
ment. In this gallant attack the 29th Eegiment sus- 
tained 190 casualties, nearly half the total British loss 
at Eoliqa. Although the impetuosity of their attack 
may be condemned, it had an important effect on the 


confidence of the army, occurring as it did at the com- 
mencement of hostilities against the renowned French 
army, which had vanquished the troops of every country 
in Europe. In his despatch Sir Arthur Wellesley wrote 
that he had never seen more gallant fighting than that 
of the 9th and 29th Eegiments. 

George Lake was, as has been stated, universally 
beloved in his regiment and by all who knew him, 
and several writers on the Peninsular War have recorded 
the circumstances attending his death. Major Fletcher, 
in his ' EecoUections,' describes Lake on the morning of 
Roliga as " mounted on a charger nearly seventeen hands 
high, and dressed in an entirely new uniform. Even his 
hat, feather, epaulettes, sash, &c., all new. His hair was 
powdered and queud, his cocked hat placed on his head 
square to the front." 

Major Fletcher said : " Well, Colonel, you are dressed 
as if you were going to be received by the King." Lake 
smiled, and replied in words that had often been used by 
his father : " Egad, sir, if I am killed to-day, I mean to 
die like a gentleman." An hour later he had fulfilled 
his promise, "leaving," says Major Eoss-Lewin, the 
chronicler of the 29th, "a void in that regiment which 
it was not easy to fill again." Major Eoss-Lewin states 
that Lake's horse having been killed during the advance. 
Major Way, who was riding Lake's second charger, dis- 
mounted and gave the horse to Lake. When surrounded 
by the French, Lake, who had already been wounded, 
refused to surrender, and was shot dead. Sergeant- 
Major Eichards at once ran forward to defend Lake, 
and himself received thirteen bullet and bayonet wounds. 
Eichards' last words were : " I should have died happy 
if our gallant Colonel had been spared." 

Major Campbell, Aide-de-Camp to Sir Arthur Wellesley, 
who was near the spot, came up to see if he could do 
anything for Lake. As he was passing the wounded 
soldiers of the 29th, many of them called out to him : 


"Never mind us, sir; for God's sake take care of the 

Major Ross-Lewin goes on to say that " the prisoners 
of the 29 th were sent off to Lisbon without delay, and 
on their march thither the men never ceased to lament 
the loss of their gallant commanding officer, and to extol 
his many virtues. When one of the escort understood 
this he immediately stepped forward and declared that 
he deeply regretted his having been the person who had 
shot such a man, and that he would never have fired at 
him had he known his worth in time." ^ 

General Delaborde, who commanded the French army 
with so much skill at Roli9a, generously presented to the 
29th Eegiment "Black Jack," the horse which Colonel 
Lake was riding when he was killed; and the Greneral 
also recovered Lake's watch and sent it to his relations. 

The officers and soldiers of the 29th erected a monu- 
ment in memory of Colonel Lake on the spot where he 
fell, and they also placed a memorial tablet in the north- 
west tower of Westminster Abbey. 

Lieut-Colonel the Hon. George Lake died unmarried. 

III. Warwick, third and youngest son of Lord Lake, 
entered the Eoyal Navy, saw a considerable amount of 
active service during the Napoleonic war, and rose to the 
rank of Captain. He succeeded his eldest brother as 
third Viscount and Baron Lake in 1836, and died June 
24, 1848, when the peerages became extinct. 

Warwick, Viscount Lake, married, in 1815, Elizabeth, 
daughter of James Beveridge Duncan, Esq., and had 
issue a son, who died in infancy, and two daughters — 

(1) Isabella Elizabeth Augusta, who died, unmarried, 1894. 

(2) Elizabeth Georgiana, married, 1865, John Austin Gloag, 

Esq., who altered his surname to Lake-Gloag. The 
Hon. Mrs Lake - Gloag had issue one daughter, 

'The Life of a Soldier.' By a Field Officer. Bentley. 1834. 


Elizabeth Duncan Lake, bom December 27, 1867 ; 
married, June 26, 1899, John Lionel Blackwood, 
Esq., and has issue living — 

(i) Terence Anthony Warwick, bom 1902. 

(ii) Patrick Haig Graeme, born 1904. 

I. Anna Maru, the eldest daughter of General 
Viscount Lake, married, 1799, Sir Eichard Borough, 
Bart., and died June 14, 1863, leaving issue — 

(1) Sir Edward Richard Borough, second baronet, born 

1800, married, 1831, the Lady Elizabeth St Lawrence, 
daughter of second Earl of Howth, and had issue four 
daughters — 

(i) Margaret Anna Maria, married Sir George 

Campbell, fourth baronet of Succoth. 
(ii) Elizabeth, 
(iii) Augusta Frances, married Sir Arthur John 

Fludyer, fifth baronet, 
(iv) Emily Georgina, married Colonel M. S. 

(2) Gerard Charles, Captain, 38th Begiment, died, un- 

married, 1835. 

(3) Amabel Elizabeth, married Thomas William, fourth 

Earl of Pomfret, and had issue — 

(i) George William, fifth Earl, died 1867. 
(ii) Lady Anna Maria Arabella (Fermor), married 
Sir Thomas Hesketh, Bart., and died 1870, 
leaving issue — 

(1) Thomas Henry, sixth baronet. 

(2) Thomas George, seventh baronet. 

(3) Edith Elizabeth, married Lawrence 

Eawstorne, Esq. 
(iii) Lady Henrietta Louisa (Fermor), married 
Colonel Thomas Wedderburn Ogilvy, and 
died 1888. 
(iv) Hon. Thomas H. G. Fermor, died 1864. 
The Countess of Pomfret married, secondly, the Rev. 
WDliam Thorpe, D.D., and had issue — 
(i) Gerard William, died 1883. 
(ii) Amabel Elizabeth, 
(iii) Louisa Elizabeth. 


(iv) Alice, married the Rev. William Seymour, 
(v) Georgina, married William Stewart Ferrers, Esq. 
(vi) Catherine Elizabeth, died 1891. 

(4) Georgina Theodosia, married John Wilson Barlow, Esq., 

and died 1875. 

(5) Augusta, married the Rev. Sir Henry Fludyer, Bart., 

and died 1889. 

II. Amabel, second daughter of Lord Lake, married 
at Cawnpore, May 20, 1803, Major, afterwards Major- 
General, Joseph Brooks, Indian Army. 

The Hon. Mrs Brooks died 1831, having had issue — 

(1) Edward Augustus, born 1819. 

(2) Gerard Lake, bom 1820, married Louisa Barbara, 

daughter of Admiral Pakenham. Issue living one 
son, Lancelot Montague, and one daughter, Annette 
Louisa Amabel. 

(3) Elizabeth Amabel, born 1804, unmarried. 

(4) Anna Maria, born 1806, unmarried. 

(5) Frances Jane Matilda, born 1807, married, 1842, the 

Rev. Samuel Smith, and died April 25, 1847. 

(6) Georgina, born 1808, married the Rev. W. Duncan, 

and died March 20, 1889. 

(7) Harriet, bom 1810, died, unmarried. May 14, 1867. 

(8) Caroline Anne, born 1813, died, unmarried, September 


(9) Amabel Theodosia, born 1815, married, 1843, the Rev. 

Joseph Bush, and died November 29, 1903, leaving 
issue living — 

(1) Joseph Edward, born 1848. 

(2) George Gerard Lake, born 1857. 

(3) Henry Biddulph, bom 1860. 

(4) Elizabeth Mary Anne. 
(10) Frederica, bom 1817. 

III. Elizabeth, third daughter of Lord Lake, married, 
in India in 1806, Colonel, afterwards Lieutenant-General, 
Sir John Harvey, K.C.B., K.C.H., A.D.C. to George III. 

The Hon. Lady Harvey died in 1851, having had 

issue — 


(1) Gerard Lake; Captain, 70th Eegimentj died 1839. 

(2) Lancelot. 

(3) One daughter. 

IV. Frances, fourth daughter of Lord Lake, died, 
unmarried, June 4, 1853. 

V. Anne, fifth daughter of Lord Lake, married, 1812, 
Lieut.-General John Wardlaw, second son of Captain 
William Wardlaw, RN., of Abden, N.B. 

The Hon. Mrs Wardlaw died in 1845, leaving issue — 

(1) Eobert ; Majoi-General and C.B. ; commanded the Royal 

Dragoons in the Crimean War; died 1885. 

(2) Gerard; 73rd Regiment. 

(3) James ; Indian Army ; served at Mudki, Ferozeshahr, 

Aliwal, &c. ; married Jane Mackenzie, daughter of 
Sir Colin Mackenzie, Bart., of Kilcoy, and had issue 
a daughter, who married George Francis Gillanders, 
Esq., of Highfield, Ross-shire, N.B. 

(4) John ; Indian Army ; severely wounded at Ferozeshahr. 

(5) William; Royal Navy; killed in action in South 


(6) Ramsay; 19th Regiment; killed in the battle of the 


(7) George ; Captain, 6th Dragoon Guards ; killed in action 

in the Indian Mutiny, December 13, 1857. 


Abaji, the Maratha General at 
Laswari, 224. 

Abercromby, General Sir Bpalph. 
Resigns the command in Ire- 
land, 91. 

Abercromby, Colonel Robert. 
Commands the sortie from 
Yorktown, 61. 

Agra, action outside, 212; sur- 
render of, 217. 

Aligarh, cavalry action at, 165 ; 
description of, 168 ; storm of, 

Ambaji Inglia, Sindhia's Com- 
mander-in-chief, 251. 

Amir Khan, the Pathan soldier of 
fortune, 273, 369. 

Argaum, battle of, 245. 

Asgill, Captain, afterwards Major- 
General Sir Charles, condemned 
to death, 64 ; defeats Irish 
rebels at Kilcomney Hill, 111. 

Ashe, Lieut. - Colonel St George, 
292, 294. 

Assay e, battle of, 218 ; points of 
resemblance with battle of Las- 
wari, 236, note. 

Ball, Colonel, 341, 352. 
Barlow, Sir George, 400, 401. 
Bourquin, General, 185. 
Brinjaris, the, 158, note. 
Broglie, Marshal de, 25, 31, 33, 

Brown, Colonel, afterwards Major- 

General Sir Thomas, 341. 
Browne, Brigadier-General G. S., 

300, 301. 
Brunswick, Hereditary Prince of, 

29, 33, and note. 

Brunswick, Prince Ferdinand of, 
character of, 19, 25 ; his winter 
campaign, 30, 32, 33, 35, 37. 

Burgoyne, General, surrenders at 
Saratoga, 50. 

Bum, Colonel William, 411, 412; 
his defence of Delhi, 302 ; at 
Shamli, 323. 

Csesar, Major-General Julius, 26, 

Carleton, Lieut. -Colonel the Hon. 
C, 148. 

Carleton, General Guy (Lord Dor- 
chester), 48. 

Clarke, Brigadier-General, 213. 

Clinton, General Sir Henry. Cap- 
tures Charleston, 51 ; orders 
Comwallis to Yorktown, 56 ; 
fails to join him, 62. 

Colman, George, dramatist, 13. 

Conway, Lieut. -General the Hon. 
Henry Seymour, 27, 36. 

Comwallis, General Earl, after- 
wards Marquis. Defeats Ameri- 
cans at Camden, 52 ; and at 
Guildford, 54 ; overruns Vir- 
ginia, 55 ; ordered by Clinton 
to Yorktown, 56 ; defends 
Yorktown and Gloucester, 58 ; 
forced to surrender, 62 ; ap- 
pointed Governor - General of 
Ireland, 112 ; appointed Gover- 
nor-General of India, 397 ; dies, 

Crauford, Colonel (afterwards 
Major-General), 125, 126. 

Dampierre, General, 73 ; his death, 



Delhi, reception of Lake at, 201; 
attacked by Holkar, 302 ; gal- 
lant defence of, 305. 

Don, Lieut.-Colonel Patrick, Cap- 
tures Rampura, 269 ; in Mon- 
aon's retreat, 279, 284 ; leads 
third assault on Bhartpur, 380. 

Dowdeswell, Major-General, 353, 

Dumouriez, General, 70, 72. 

Election address. Lake's bur- 
lesque, 68. 

Enniscorthy, rebel tactics at, 96 ; 
destruction of, by rebels, 97. 

Exeter, Countess of, 5 and note, 

Ferguson of Pitfour, Major 70th 

Regiment, killed in American 

War, 52. 
Fitzherbert, Mrs, 66. 
Flenry, Commandant, 181. 
Forrest, Lieutenant, receives 

twenty-one wounds at Dig, 352. 
Fraser, Major-General, killed at 

Dig, 339. 

Gates, General, 49. 

George II., King, 17; his death, 

George III., King, thanks Lake, 

George, Prince Regent, 65-67 ; 

visits Lord Lake on his death- 
bed, 319. 
Gerard, Elizabeth, 11 ; her royal 

descent, 12. 
Germaine, Lord George. See Sack- 

Gondomar, 6. 
Granby, John, Marquis of, 21 ; 

succeeds Lord George Sackville 

after battle of Minden, 24 ; 

his conduct at Warburg, 28 ; 

and at Wilhelmstal, 38 ; notices 

Lake, 40. 
Grasse, Admiral, Comte de, 57. 
Graves, Admiral (Lord), 56, 57. 
Greene, General, 53. 
Gregory, Major Robert, 235. 
Griffiths, Major, killed at Laswari, 


Harcourt, Colonel, 142. 

Hindustan, description of, 135. 

Horsford, Colonel, R.A., 192, 

Howe, General Sir William, 47. 

Hutchinson, Major - General the 
Hon. John (Earl of Donongb- 
more), 116, 119; character, 124. 

James I., King, 3; his wisdom, 
7; compares Sir Thomas Lake 
to Adam, 10. 

Johnson, Major-General, defends 
New Ross, 100 ; his gallant 
conduct, 101; at Vinegar Hill, 

Lake, Bishop Arthur, a model 
prelate, 2. 

Lake, Gerard, family history, 1 ; 
royal descent, 12 ; birth, 13 ; 
enters 1st Guards, 15; serves 
in Seven Years' War, 26 ; 
distinguishes himself at Wil- 
helmstal, 39 ; serves in Ameri- 
can War of Independence, 54 ; 
leads sortie at Yorktown, 61 ; 
enters Parliament, 68 ; pro- 
moted Major-General, 70; 
commands Guards Brigade in 
Holland, ib. ; distinguishes 
himself at St Amand, 74 ; 
defeats French force at Lincelles, 
77 ; appointed to command in 
Ulster, 84 ; o£5ciates as Com- 
mander - in - Chief during first 
portion of the Irish rebellion, 
87 ; defeats the rebels at 
Vinegar Hill, 106 ; proceeds to 
meet Humbert's expedition, 
117; present at defeat of 
Castlebar, 119; captures Hum- 
bert's force, 127 ; appointed 
Commander-in-Chief in India, 
131 ; proceeds to Cawnpore, 
150 ; correspondence with Lord 
Wellesley, ib.; prepares his 
troops for war, 151 ; takes the 
field against Perron, 155 ; 
defeats Perron's cavalry, 165 ; 
captures Aligarh, 174 ; defeats 
Maratha army at battle of 
Delhi, 194 ; enters Delhi, 201 ; 



marches on Agra, 207 ; defeats 
Maratha troops, 213 ; fall of 
Agra, 217 ; destroys Maratha 
army at Laswari, 224 ; Lake's 
conduct at Laswari, 244 ; letter 
from Iiord Wellesley, 253 ; 
capture of Gwalior, 260 ; cam- 
paign against Holkar, 267 ; 
Monson's detachment, 271 ; its 
misfortunes, 276 ; Lake's selec- 
tion of Monson for command, 
295 ; the defence of Delhi by 
Burn, 305 ; arrival of Lake, 
322 ; the pursuit of Holkar, 
323; relief of Shamli, 325; 
defeat of Holkar at Farakbabad, 
329 ; the battle of Dig, 339 ; 
capture of Dig, 351 ; siege of 
Bhartpur, 355 ; the first assault, 
358 ; the second assault, 364 ; 
the pursuit of Amir Khan, 369 ; 
action of Afzalgarh, 371 ; third 
assault on Bhartpur, 378 ; 
fourth assault, 382 ; Lake 
raised to the Peerage, 387 ; 
Kaja of Bhartpur makes terms, 
388 ; Lord Wellesley's farewell, 
397 ; Lake and Cornwallis, 
398 ; Sir George Barlow, 400 ; 
Lake pursues Holkar into the 
Punjab, 404 ; Holkar comes to 
terms, 409 ; end of the war, 
411 ; Lord Lake leaves India, 

413 ; his character as a soldier, 

414 ; death, 418 ; conclusion, 

Lake, Honble. George A.F., 131 ; 
wounded at Laswari, 239 ; at 
Bhartpur, 376 ; killed at Boli9a, 

Lake, Mary, Duchess of Chandos, 
11, 15. 

Lake, Sir Thomas, his rise, 3 ; 
his fall, 9 ; his skill as a pen- 
man, 10. 

Lake, Warwick, brother of Lord 
Lake, 13. 

Lake, Warwick, father of Lord 
Lake, 11. 

Lake, Warwick (Honble.), after- 
wards 3rd Viscount, 14. 

Lincelles, action of, 76. 

Lindon, Lieutenant, his death, 229. 

Lindsay, Captain EfiSngham, 
wounded at Dig, 351 ; loses 
his leg at Bhartpur, 365. 

Loftus, Major-General, repulsed 
at Gorey, 100; commands a 
column at Vinegar Hill, 108. 

Lucan, Lieutenant, guides Ali- 
garh stormers, 171 ; commands 
cavalry with Monson's force, 
272 ; taken prisoner by Holkar, 
277 ; is killed, 278. 

Macan, Colonel Richard, 230, 

231, 234. 
Macan, the brothers, 230. 
M'Cuiloch, Lieutenant - Colonel, 

212, 283. 
Macdonald, Colonel, 239. 
M'Leod, Major, 174. 
Maitland, Lieutenant - Colonel, 

killed at Bhartpur, 360. 
Malcolm, Colonel (afterwards Sir 

John), 401 ; his estimate of 

Lord Lake, 415. 
Maratha States in 1803, 140, 141. 
Metcalfe, Charles (afterwards 

Lord), "my young stormer," 

Minden, battle of, 23. 
Monson, Colonel the Hon. W., 

170, 174, 267, 271. 
Moore, Major-General (Sir John), 

Morgan, Colonel, 53. 
Murphy, Father John, 110, 111. 
Murphy, Father Michael, killed 

at Arklow, 104. 
Murray, Colonel (afterwards 

Lieutenant-General Sir John), 

266, 275. 

Napier, General Sir Charles 

Needham, Major - General the 
Hon. J. (Earl of Eilmorey), 
defeats Irish rebels at Arklow, 

NichoU, Captain, 285; his dis- 
tinguished conduct, 288. 

Ochterlony, Colonel (afterwards 
Sir David), appointed Resident 
at Delhi, 204 ; with Colonel 



Bum defends Delhi against 

Holkar, 305. 
O'Donnell, Captain, 281, 282, 

" Old Port," Lord Lake's charger, 

killed at Laswari, 255. 

Pearse, Colonel Thomas Deane, 
192, note, 273, note. 

Pedron, Colonel, 175. 

Perron, General, 165, 167. 

Phillips, Major-General, 55. 

Pierson, Major - General Sir 
Richard, 44. 

Pollock, Lieutenant (afterwards 
Field-Marshal Sir George), 351. 

Powell, Colonel (afterwards Major- 
General) Peregrine, 258, 273. 

Prosperous, massacre at, 93. 

Rayne, Colonel, 358, 359. 
Rodney, Admiral Lord, 56. 
Roos, Lord, 4-6. 

Rose, Lieutenant John, 307, 320, 

Sackville (afterwards Germaine), 

Lord George, conduct at Min- 

den, 23. 
St Amand, action at, 74. 
St John, Major-General the Hon. 

Frederick, 154. 
St Ledger, Colonel William, 148. 
Schuyler, General, 49. 
ScuUabogue, massacre at, 102. 
Shah Alam, 200 ; confers titles on 

Lake, 203. 
Shaw, Lieutenant, strange escape 

of, 287. 
Shipp, Sergeant John, 351. 
Sinclair, Major L., captures Hin- 

glazgarh, 275; killed in Mon- 

son's retreat, 286. 
Skinner, Colonel James, at Ali- 

garh, 176 ; raises Skinner's 

Horse, 205 ; pursues Holkar, 

333 ; crosses the Sutlej, 405. 
Smith, Major-General John, 372, 

Soubiae, Mar^chal Prince de, 31, 

Stainville, General Comte de, 38. 
Sumru, the Begum, 252, 412. 

Tarleton, Colonel Banaster, de- 
feats Americans in Carolina, 52 ; 
is in turn defeated, 53. 

Templeton, Lieutenant, killed at 
Bhartpur, 384. 

Thorn, Captain W. (quoted), 156. 

United Irish Society, 85; numer- 
ical strength, 86 ; arrest of the 
leaders, 87. 

Valenciennes, capture of, 75. 
Vandeleur, Colonel John Ormsby, 

Vandeleur, Colonel Thomas Paken- 

ham, 183 ; is killed at Laswari, 

Vinegar Hill, rebel position at, 

97 ; assault and capture of, 108. 

Wade, Captain, 237. 

Walpole, Colonel, defeated and 
killed at Gorey, 100. 

Ware, Major - General, 191 ; is 
killed at Laswari, 239. 

Washington, General George, his 
pertinacity, 48 ; his mastery of 
strategy, 56 ; his humanity, 65. 

Wellesley, Major - General the 
Hon. Arthur (afterwards Duke 
of Wellington), occupies Poona, 
defeats the Marathas at Assaye, 
218 ; and at Argaum, 245 ; his 
opinion of Lake's capture of 
Aligarh, 179, note; his letter on 
Monson's disaster, 311. 

Wellesley, Marquess, letters to 
Lord Lake, 199, 218, 253; 
quarrels with the Court of 
Directors, 396 ; leaves India, 

Weltjee (steward to the Prince of 
Wales), 68. 

Wexford Bridge, massacre on, 109. 

White, Colonel Henry, at battle 
of Delhi, 191 ; at Agra, 212 ; 
wounded at Laswari, 246 ; cap- 
tures Gwalior, 260. 

Woodington, Colonel, 142. 

Wraxall, Sir Nathaniel, 65. 

York, H.R.H. Duke of, 71 ; issues 
order after Lincelles, 80.